Championship Recap

Turbo Bocce’s championship tournament had more people playing better bocce than I can ever remember, so I am going to do my best to ensure it gets remembered in a fitting way. The best summation I can give you is, this league is amazing! I had a great time competing and watching so many people step up and play like champions.

With that said, lets break it down game by game starting with the round of 16.

South Beach vs Ball Don’t Lie

This game generated the most controversy of the day as one half of Ball Don’t Lie could not attend and a replacement from the team they beat in the previous round was brought in to fill the void. Popular opinion is going to lead to a rule change for next year ensuring that no team can use a league member as a sub in the playoffs. But for this year Phil Martino and Andy Ingalls of South Beach handled the situation with class, not hesitating a moment to take on the challenge. In the first game Phil and Andy showed why they earned the #3 seed this year, by playing their patented short game, controlling the pallino and generating a ton of bocces, resulting in an 11-7 win. In the second game something clicked for Jake and Garth of Ball Don’t Lie, and that something manifested itself in an 11-0 win in game 2 and carried them all the way to one of the final games of the tournament. The third game was one of the toughest fought of any game played on this very long day of bocce. Jake and Garth were red hot, but Phil and Andy are bocce champions and would not go out without a fight. In the end Jake and Garth took the game and the series with a 12-10 win. Ball Don’t Lie would go on to play Breakfast of Champions who beat KPP in a two game sweep a week early.

Knickerbocces vs. Kentucky Bourbon

An excellent game between the 10 seed and the 7 seed started late because Josh of Knickerbocce’s car broke down. While that alone would make a difficult morning for anybody, I am sure having to rush to the field to play the 7 seeded Kentucky Bourbon did not make his morning any easier. Luckily his partner Sean was willing to play the hero. He showed up early and helped me set up, then drove back out to pick Josh up and bring him to the field for the game. Despite arriving late, Josh paid Sean back by scoring seven points and leading the Knickerbocces to an 11-9 first game win. In the second game Kentcky Bourbon bounced back with an 11-9 win of their own.  After two close games Kentucky Bourbon found their stride and pulled away, winning 11-1 to move on.

Droppin Balls vs. Lord of the Balls

2 seed Droppin Balls squared off against 15 seed Lord of the Balls. The last time Droppin Balls lost a series dinosaurs were roaming the earth, but Tim of Lord of the Balls has a long history of winning in the playoffs (each time with a different partner) including an appearance in last years championship game and winning the largest bocce tournament in Syracuse history earlier this year (the Syracuse Bocce Blast). Unfortunately for Tim, for the first time he was actually a little off his game in this tournament, and it does not take much to lose to Droppin Balls because those guys are really good. Colin and Mike were able to put together 11-3 and 11-4 wins and advance to play Kentucky Bourbon in the round of 8.

Ball Busters vs. New Bocce Order

Maybe you’ve already heard this from a tall guy with a feather, but just in case you haven’t . . . New Bocce Order is a really good team. I’m sure we can all agree that they were the best team in the league this year. But what I loved to see is that even knowing this, the Ball Busters came ready to win and ready to dish it out as well as anybody (Whipple) in the league. In the true spirit of Indian war paint, the Balls Busters used their clothing to intimidate and distract their opponent. And let me tell you, I saw Whipple’s face when they walked onto the field . . . the guy was shocked. For the record, my personal favorite touch was smoking the cigars. Unfortunately for the Ball Busters, as I said before, New Bocce Order is a really good team, and they were able to win the series two games to none, but I like to think the whole day was just a little more awesome because Monica and Katie brought their physical and mental A game.

Salty Bocce Balls vs. Sweet Italian Bocce Balls

24th seeded Salty Bocce Balls had what was probably the biggest upset of the second round beating the 9th seeded (and last years regular season champs who got their medals a year late) Puzzles. Unfortunately for the Salty Bocce Balls, their big upset got them nothing but a match up with another highly ranked team – this time with something to prove. Anson of Sweet Italian Bocce Balls told me that he came into the playoffs with three goals, to beat Whipple, to finish higher than South Beach, and to win a championship. He and his partner Dan played like a team on a mission winning both games of this series and moving on to face New Bocce Order.

The Moppines vs. Mark & Robb

This was a bit of a rivalry game because it featured ex-partners Greg Griffo of the Moppines and Mark Streiff of Mark & Robb. Having played a former teammate myself, I know it can bring a little extra competitiveness and fun to a match up. I also know that sometimes change is good, which is the case here, because both Greg and Mark are playing better bocce now than ever before. As the scorekeeper, I can tell you this was an extremely well played back-and-forth game between two very good teams. Mark & Robb won the first game fairly easily by a score of 11-4, but Greg was determined to not go down without a fight. He scored seven points and lead his team to a tough 11-9 win in the second game. The third game felt like it took hours, as points were difficult to come by for both teams. In the end Mark & Robb won the game 11-8 (three aces by Robb in the third game alone helped seal the deal). A tough loss for The Moppines, but they can hold their head high knowing they played as well as anybody in this tournament, and with Bryan being a first year player the future looks bright.

Big LaBocce vs. The Landlords

21 seed Big LaBocce squared off against the 5 seed Landlords in a great game. Oscar from The Landlords could not play in this tournament, so his partner Tom got Pete who is new to Turbo Bocce but a life long bocce player. Pete and Tom had little problem gelling and they were able to win the first game 11-7. In the second game Bernie and Scott of Big LaBocce got rolling and won 11-4. In the decisive third game, newcomer Pete had a very good showing but it was not enough to beat a red hot Bernie and Scott who went on to win the game 11-6 and the series, setting up a round of 8 match up with Mark & Robb.

Round of 8

An important round because the winners of these games would be playing for cash.

Ball Don’t Lie vs. Breakfast of Champions

The 19th seed, Ball Don’t Lie matched up against the 6th seed Breakfast of Champions for a spot to go to the final four. Breakfast of Champions took a two to nothing lead at the start of the first game thanks to two quick points by Andy Thompson, but after that it was pretty much all Ball Don’t Lie who put on a bocce clinic. Controlling the pallino, putting their first shot in close and forcing Breakfast of Champions to make (or in this case mostly not-make) difficult shots, and they even pulled out a few nice bocces of their own when they had to. The two game sweep was by scores of 11-7 and 11-7 but in all honesty the scores make the games seem closer than they really were.

Droppin Balls vs. Kentucky Bourbon

The 2 seed Droppin Balls faced off against the 7 seed Kentucky Bourbon in a bracket that had gone without an upset to this point. Jeremy and Rob wanted to buck that trend, and came out strong, winning the first game 11-5. Colin and Mike, though, came into the tournament the hottest team in the league, and are the 2 seed for a reason. The second game was a battle where some really good bocce was played and extra bocce was needed to determine a winner. In the end, Jeremy and Rob (playoff vets that they are) found a way to secure a 13-11 victory, pull the upset, and advance tot the final four.  You might notice a trend of underdogs winning in the round of 8 as we go through our game recaps.

New Bocce Order vs. Sweet Italian Bocce Balls

The 8 seed, Sweet Italian Bocce Balls matched up against the 1 seed New Bocce Order in a rematch of a classic regular season game that took three hours to play because all three games went into extra bocce. On that day, Anson and Dan of Sweet Italian Bocce Balls had a shot for game point in all three games and could not put any of those shots in to score. After losing all three of those games, Anson and Dan made it a goal not to lose this time around . . . and they didnt. They won both games with scores of 11-8 and 11-5, beating a team that had only lost three times all year twice in a row and earning what was without a doubt the win of the tournament. The last few years have proven that no matter how good you are, its hard to win a championship because there are so many good bocce players in our league capable of getting hot and beating anybody. Jim Whipple was not able to win the title he talked about so often this year, but he did have what was in my mind the finest season long performance in Turbo Bocce history scoring 190 points (a record) and leading his team to a regular season record of 27-3 (a record).

Mark & Robb vs. Big LaBocce

The 4th seed, Mark & Robb took on the 21st seed, Big LaBocce, and right off the bat you knew it was going to be a good game. Extra bocce was needed to decide the first game, with Mark & Robb winning 12-10. In the second game, Bernie and Scott of Big LaBocce bounced right back with a 11-9 win. So it came down to a decisive third game, and in a round where the underdog won each of the games, Mark & Robb were able to hold on, and win 11-6, making them the only favorite to move on to the final four. Even for them it was not easy as both of their wins came in closely contested third games.

The Final Four

Ball Don’t Lie vs. Kentucky Bourbon

On one half of the bracket, 7 seed Kentucky Bourbon faced off against 19 seed Ball Don’t Lie. Keep in mind that our tournament started at 11am. At this point in the tournament it was about 4pm. A lot of beers were had, a lot of sunshine taken in, and there is no doubt that fatigue becomes a factor. Still, all of the four teams left were game to win it all. Kentucky Bourbon got out to a huge lead, and were one point away from a first game win before Ball Don’t Lie woke up. However, Ball Don’t Lie proved earlier in the tournament that they can put together huge scoring runs, and that is what they did here taking the score from 10-2 to 10-9. At that point though, Rob from Kentucky Bourbon was able to put his ball right next to the pallino from about 45 feet, giving his team the point they had been searching for to seal the first victory. Ball Don’t Lie had the momentum though, and they carried that momentum into the second game, winning it 11-9. In the third game Jeremy from Kentucky Bourbon took over. He was absolutely on fire, throwing at least one of his balls (and often times both) within an inch of the pallino. He scored 8 points in that game alone (and 19 in the three game set) to lead Kentucky Bourbon to a win and a spot in the championship game.

Mark & Robb vs. Sweet Italian Bocce Balls

Anson and Dan of Sweet Italian Bocce Balls had a long rest going into this game because they had dispatched their opposition relatively quickly with two sweeps while Mark & Robb played two marathon games that involved extra bocce plus a third game. Whether the chance to sit down for a bit in the shade and rest helped Anson and Dan or the continuous playing helped Mark and Robb I cannot say. I can tell you that Mark & Robb won a close first game 11-8, but Sweet Italian Bocce Balls bounced back in dominant fashion, winning the second game 11-3. Maybe Mark & Robb got battle tested during their first two difficult game 3’s, because they looked poised, and played great bocce to win this one 11-5, and move onto the championship game.

The 3rd place game

Ball Don’t Lie vs. Sweet Italian Bocce Balls

After 7 hours of bocce and 300 beers drank in total, this is the game that nobody wants to play in, but since the winner gets $100, they do anyway. The first game was a close one that Anson and Dan managed to win 11-8. In the second game Dan Hanley took over, making great shot after great shot and piling up several aces to go with 9 points. Sweet Italian Bocce Balls won the game 11-3. I tried to congratulate Dan on a great round of bocce, winning $100, beating the #1 seed, and helping Anson finish ahead of his former teammate, but all he could do was wonder aloud where those aces were in the previous game they lost. People want to win, its not about he money, its about the trophy. Which is nice. I have a feeling Anson and Dan will be among the favorites going into next year. On the other hand, Jake Schatz didn’t win any money, but managed to cap his 162 point rookie season with a final 4 appearance. An extremely impressive effort, especially for a rookie. I have a feeling his team will be one of the teams to reckon with next year too.

The Championship Game

Kentucky Bourbon vs. Mark & Robb

The 7 seed Kentucky Bourbon squared off against the 4 seed Mark and Robb with everything on the line. The game was quiet and business like, with the pressure on these two teams clearly evident. Mark & Robb won the first game 11-6 with some help from a game ending debocce. Sometimes losing a game like that will rattle a team, but Rob and Jeremy of Kentucky Bourbon are veterans, and came out strong in the second game. Kentucky Bourbon had a 5 to 4 lead when they rattled off 4 straight points to take a commanding 9 to 4 lead. It was at this point that Mark Streiff stepped up and made a couple huge shots and bocces. Mark & Robb scored 7 straight points to get the win and the championship 11-9. Usually the player with the highest championship point total wins the playoff MVP award. In this case Robb Jones had it with 13 points, but this year Mark Streiffs clutch performance stood out, and he was named playoff MVP. Rob and Jeremy finished in second place and took home $200, but there is more to this story. In two years filled with upsets they are the only team to have back to back deep playoff runs (having finished 3rd last season), and they deserve big kudos for that. As for Mark Streiff and Robb Jones, these two Turbo Bocce veterans both lost their partners from last year and considered not playing this year. Luckily they found each other, both for them and for us, as they make excellent Turbo Bocce Champions!

The 2013 championship scorecard.  One for the Turbo Bocce Hall of fame once its invented.

Final Standings

Here are the top 16 teams in the league (out of 40) ranked by how they finished in the playoffs and letting BCS rankings serve as a tie breaker between teams that went out in the same round. Congratulations to all the teams – finishing in the top 16 is a great accomplishment – and thank you to everybody who participated, and helped make this year such a great one.

  1. Mark & Robb

  2. Kentucky Bourbon

  3. Sweet Italian Bocce Balls

  4. Ball Don’t Lie

  5. New Bocce Order

  6. Droppin Balls

  7. Breakfast of Champions

  8. Big LaBocce

  9. South Beach

  10. The Landlords

  11. Knickerbocces

  12. The Moppines

  13. Lord of the Balls

  14. Ball Busters

  15. KPP

  16. Salty Bocce Balls