ROCKAWAY _ With two weeks to go until the Morris County Bowling Tournament, Paige Piombino's favorite ball met an unfortunate fate.
The prized Storm Crux, her treasured ball and a staple for at least four years, emerged from the return at Oakwood Lanes with scratches on it and, in Piombino's words, "chunks out of it."
Piombino, a West Morris senior, had one option - get a new ball. Rob Plenge, the owner of the bowling center, provided her with a new one, a 15-pound orange, blue and turquoise Storm Sure Lock two days before the MCT.
The ball proved to be impressive, as was Piombino, who tied Jefferson's Emma Thies for girls high series with a 586, rolling a 225-182-179 in the competition held at Rockaway Lanes on Thursday, Jan. 25. The 233 Thies tossed was the high individual game among the girls.
"It's pretty much fresh out of the box," said Piombino of her new ball. "During practice, I wasn't hitting much. I wasn't striking. I stayed positive and didn't let it bother me. Then my first ball in my first game was a strike. That felt very good."
Her showing in the tournament was exceptional. She strung together five strikes at the end of her first game (225) and did not leave a frame open. Piombino's other games were nearly as solid but lacked a dominant string of strikes.
The competition was fierce with Thies, Rhianna Smith of Mount Olive and Lauren Marks of Parsippany among those vying for top honors.
"I just came in with a strong attitude," she said. "I wasn't going to let any other bowler interfere with my game. I figured it's my senior year. I wanted to do well."
Initially, Piombino had her heart set on another Crux but went with the Sure Lock. A friend from Hunterdon Central High School, Justin DeMartin, also a bowler, convinced her by telling her that "It's a good ball. It'll look nice on your hand."
A bit of stress came with the new ball, especially because she hadn't used it much. However, it turned out to be perfect for Piombino, who will study nursing in the fall at York College in Pennsylvania. She will not bowl.
When Piombino was growing up, she tried a multitude of sports, including lacrosse, soccer, softball, gymnastics and field hockey. She also participated in dancing. Her mother, Kim, used to bowl in local leagues.
"Bowling just turned out to be my favorite," she said. "I'm happy about how I did today. After this, I won't be bowling as much."
As for the Crux, it's in Piombino's bedroom. She won't part with it for awhile, maybe never.
"I really don't want to get rid of it. It has a lot of good memories," said Piombino, whose high game was a 290 attained on Oct. 22, 2016.