Vernon's Giana Loyer went into the bowling sectionals with the skills, consistency and demeanor required to be a champion.
Loyer, a sophomore, made sure she had one more edge - a fine support system, consisting of family, friends and teammates, in place - when the New Jersey North Sectional Championships were held on Saturday, Feb. 4 at Bowler City in Hackensack.
The backing, said Loyer, was a critical factor in her performance. Loyer posted a 656 series (225-195-236) to take top individual honors. Lenape Valley's Crystal Keller had a 640 and finished second.
"A lot of it was that everyone was there and encouraged me," Loyer said. "They kept me in a good mood and doing well."
Loyer advances to the individual tournament, which will be held at Carolier Lanes in Edison on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
Perhaps most happy for Loyer was her good friend, Sarah Rhodes of Sparta. Rhodes, a junior, didn't have her best showing but made sure to cheer on Loyer.
"Sarah was having a tough time but was so happy for me," Loyer said.
Taking first place surprised her. She knew about Keller, who has had a number of 700-plus series. Keller finished fourth at the 2010 individual tournament.
"There were some really good bowlers there, ones I don't usually beat," Loyer said. "I don't bowl in the same (NJAC) division as Crystal. She's at Rockaway Lanes."
Loyer, who possesses a wicked hook and lots of power, emerged at the top of the pack for several reasons.
"I didn't lose my cool," she said. "I fixed things. I made little adjustments, like where and how I threw the ball. A whole bunch of little things."
The 225 game got Loyer off to a good start. She dropped to a 195 in the middle game. She still thought she had good shots but...
"Some of the balls I threw in the second game were a little too far to the right," Loyer said. "I was leaving pins up at 10 and 7."
Her last game, though, was a gem and featured five consecutive strikes.
On Sunday, Feb. 5, Loyer and her coach/teammate Tom Semiz took first in the Major Girls Division of the Morris County USBC Youth Association 42nd Annual Adult/Youth Roll-Off Tournament held at Boonton Lanes.
Loyer shot a 216-194-226 for a 636 series and Semiz, the pro at Sparta Lanes, bowled a 675. Bowlers from Sussex, Morris and Warren Counties participated in the handicap tournament. Bowlers qualified in each of their bowling houses in December and then competed in the finals match.
The recent superb showings indicate Loyer is exactly where she needs to be at this point of the high school season.
In order to do well at the individual tournament, Loyer feels she'll have to bowl a 700 series. The closest she came was a 699 versus Sparta last winter.
What other factor will figure into her success?
"Not calculating," she said. "I figure out what I had in my first two games and then see what I need. I can't do that."