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Hall of Famer Tish Johnson wins 2018 USBC Senior Queens

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United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer Tish Johnson of Colorado Springs, Colorado, finally claimed the USBC Senior Queens tiara she’s coveted, defeating fellow USBC Hall of Famer Jeanne Naccarato at Gold Coast Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Sunday.

Johnson (featured photo), a 55-year-old left-hander, capped a dominating performance this week with a 267-191 title-match victory over Naccarato of Tacoma, Washington. Johnson earned $8,000 for the win, while Naccarato’s second-place finish netted her $6,400.

Johnson, who recorded four consecutive runner-up finishes at the Senior Queens from 2013-2016, left no doubt in 2018, striking on nine of her first 10 deliveries in the final.

Naccarato (left), who claimed her third career title at the National Golden Ladies Classic earlier in the week, put herself in position to win a second title in Las Vegas but saw her chance slip away after back-to-back opens in the fifth and sixth frames against Johnson.

Between the USBC Queens and Senior Queens, Johnson failed to secure a tiara in nine championship-round appearances prior to her win Sunday.

When she saw the look she wanted during practice on the championship pair and caught a few early hits against Naccarato, the 25-time Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour titlist knew it was her time.

“I saw a lot of different looks during match play, but the championship pair played just like qualifying for me,” said Johnson (right), who also is a member of the PWBA Hall of Fame. “Right away, I had a game plan, and anytime I can go away from the pocket, I can be pretty dangerous.

“You lead (the Senior Queens) enough and start to wonder if it’s ever going to be your turn. After getting a messenger in the first, tripping out the 6-8 and seeing Jeanne miss a couple of spares, which she never does, I started to think it was going to be my time. Being able to have my family and a lot of friends here made it incredible.”

Johnson earned the top spot through qualifying (234.47 average for 15 games) and rolled through match play leading up to her title tilt against Naccarato. She averaged more than 240 in her five wins in match play, including a 782-603 victory over Sharon Powers of Lakewood, Colorado, to claim the top seed for the stepladder finals.

As the top seed in the true double-elimination format, Naccarato would’ve had to beat Johnson twice to claim her first tiara.

Naccarato advanced to the title match with a dramatic finish against Powers, delivering three strikes in the 10th frame to win, 204-203. Powers, who qualified second, had the chance to shut out Naccarato, but she left a 2-4-5 combination on her fill ball to give Naccarato the opening.

Naccarato, the No. 3 seed, used a late run of four consecutive strikes to best Michele Carter of National City, California, 228-212.

In the opening match of the stepladder, Carter started with six consecutive strikes and outdistanced Shandy Simchen, also from Tacoma, 244-220.

A four-player shootout round determined the No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 seeds for the stepladder, and Naccarato paced the field with a 683 series. Simchen earned the No. 4 seed with a 622 effort, and Carter claimed the final spot by finishing with a 236 game to edge MeiLing Billingsley of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, 571-567. Billingsley finished in sixth place.

Qualifying at the 2018 Senior Queens consisted of 15 games over two days to determine the 31 players who joined defending champion and USBC Hall of Famer Lucy Sandelin of Tampa, Florida, in the double-elimination match-play bracket.

All matches leading up to the stepladder finals were decided by total pinfall over three games. BOWL.com’s BowlTV provided wire-to-wire coverage of the event. Watch the stepladder final here.

2018 USBC Senior Queens – Stepladder Finals

Gold Coast Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev., USA (March 15-18, 2018)

Championship Round:

1. Tish Johnson, Colorado Springs, Colo., 267 (1 game), $8,000
2. Jeanne Naccarato, Tacoma, Wash., 623 (3 games), $6,400
3. Sharon Powers, Lakewood, Colo., 203 (1 game), $5,000
4. Michele Carter, National City, Calif., 456 (2 games), $3,900
5. Shandy Simchen, Tacoma, Wash., 220 (1 game), $3,000

Playoff Results:
First Match: No. 5 Carter def. No. 4 Simchen, 244-220
Second Match: No. 3 Naccarato def. Carter, 228-212
Semifinal Match: Naccarato def. def. No. 2 Powers, 204-203
Championship: No. 1 Johnson def. Naccarato, 267-191.

Final Standings

Herbert Bickel

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