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CENTREVILLE, Va. – Pushed to the limit, the Portland Lumberjacks were able to overcome a tough challenge from an expansion team to win the PBA League Elias Cup for the second consecutive year.
Portland took down the Las Vegas High Rollers, 3-2, in the best-of-five championship match at Bowlero Centreville.
The Lumberjacks dropped the first game 252-197 but rallied for wins of 278-218 and 235-210. Las Vegas was able to even it up with a 235-220 win in Game 4, but Portland took the title with a 257-197 win in the deciding game.
It’s the third time since the PBA League started in 2013 that a team has won back-to-back titles. The Silver Lake Atom Splitters did it in 2014 and 2015, while the Dallas Strikers won back-to-back in 2016 and 2017.
Wes Malott, the anchor for Portland, did make history becoming the first player to earn MVP honors in back-to-back years. He helped bring the trophy home to Bayside Bowl in Portland, Maine, where the PBA League will be held next year.
Portland won the Elias Cup for the first time last season at Bayside Bowl and the fans stormed the lanes after the victory. The event was scheduled to be held there again this year but due to coronavirus restrictions in Maine the event was relocated to just outside Washington, D.C.
“I’m just so happy that we get to take this cup back to Portland and defend our title where we should have been to defend this with the crowd and craziness,” Malott said. “I can’t wait to get there next year and do it the way it was supposed to be done.”
In the fifth and deciding game, Las Vegas actually got out to a quick lead, starting with three strikes in a row but Andrew Anderson left a 2-4-10 split for an open in the fourth frame.
Portland, after starting with a spare from Martin Larsen, then went on a striking spree to put the game away.
Packy Hanrahan, Kyle Troup, Kris Prather and Malott all struck in the second through fifth frames to build a 13-pin lead. The striking continued through the ninth frame, when the match was already locked up.
Although Malott earned MVP honors, Larsen was a big part of Portland’s success in the championship match. Larsen, who was drafted by the Lumberjacks earlier this year, struck on nine of his 10 shots on the night.
“First off, the MVP award is not only about knocking down pins, it’s about being a great teammate and a strong leader,” Larsen said. “I don’t think it was a wrong choice of them to get Wes in there. He means a lot for the team.”
Las Vegas, meanwhile, enjoyed tremendous success in its first season in the PBA League. Team manager Amleto Monacelli drafted his team with an eye on the future and his squad delivered results immediately.
The High Rollers were the first team this season to even win a game against the Lumberjacks, which won both of its previous matches 2-0 in the best-of-three points format.
Las Vegas had the early momentum with a 252-197 win in the opening game, which wasn’t close after Portland had two opens in the first four frames.
Portland rallied in Game 2, however, starting with eight consecutive strikes to win with ease. The Lumberjacks then coasted to a win in the third game.
Although Las Vegas was able to win Game 4 when AJ Johnson made the 3-6-10 spare in the final frame, they were unable to keep it close down the stretch in the deciding game.
The focus now shifts to the resumption of the 2020 PBA World Series of Bowling, which will get underway Thursday with match play rounds from the PBA Cheetah Championship and PBA Chameleon Championship.