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Rec Sports Spotlight: Greenmount witness to perfect game

Tim Stitely could have told you that Lee Duthu is a good bowler even before the youngster's spectacular demonstration April 7.

Stitely is a U.S. Bowling Congress-certified coach, and he is in a position to watch a lot of youngsters bowl on Saturday mornings at the Greenmount Bowling Center in Hampstead.

The youth league has some 40 kids up through the age of 20, and Stitely takes great enjoyment in teaching those kids and watching his young charges progress.

One of these was Duthu, 13, from Owings Mills. Stitely noted that Duthu, who has bowled at Greenmount for a few years, has improved each year. In fact, he has established himself as the league's top bowler this year even though he's often rolling against kids six and seven years older. His 180 average is the league's best.

However as good as he's been, Duthu revealed that he had never come close to a 300 game. The closest he'd come was a 255 about a month ago, but that's a far cry from 300.

Greenmount Center Youth Director Paul Saunders noted that no youth bowler had ever rolled a 300 game in the 30-to-40 year history of the house.

However on this particular April 7, that would change. Duthu started knocking them all down in one frame after another. During the early going, he was concentrating too hard on nailing pins to worry about just how all those perfect frames were beginning to add up.

However, by around the sixth frame, he suddenly realized that he was pitching a perfect game.

"I was thinking, 'Hey. I can bowl a 300 game.' That was so cool," the youngster recalled.

He was also getting nervous, although he had known and overcome big-time bowling pressure a couple of times before.

He recalled two previous instances when he'd overcome the jitters to succeed.

"I remembered one time when that I had to get a good score in the tenth frame to have a 600. I bowled it and got a 602," Duthu said. "The second time, I was bowling against my brother in a [United States Bowling Congress state championship] tournament. We were close in the final game. A lot of people were watching us, but I won the championship."

Meanwhile, word had gotten around the lane that a 300 game was in the making, and other bowlers stopped to watch the youngster pursue it. Alleys 23 and 24 suddenly became a very popular place to be.

"By the eighth or ninth frame, everybody else had stopped bowling," Duthu recalled.

He admitted to getting pretty rattled, saying,"I was shaking. My dad [Roy] and my coaches tried to calm me down by joking around."

"By [that time] everybody in the alley had quietly wandered down there to watch the final couple of frames. The only noise you heard was his dad talking to him and trying to calm him down," Saunders recalled.

Saunders added that if the youngster might have been scared, he neither showed it or let it affect him. He recalled that Duthu rolled three perfect balls in that pressure-packed 10th frame.

And when that final strike went down,"he just jumped up in the air, and the whole place went wild. There were hugs, and everybody shook his hand," Saunders said.

"I was so thrilled and happy to bowl 300. It's cool when everyone comes up to you and grabs your hand. Everyone congratulated me. It was a great feeling," Duthu said.

Oh, by the way, his Torpedoes bowling team won that game.

Now he looks ahead, saying, "I want to bowl a 700 series and then an 800 series. I want to continue improving as a bowler."

He added, "I'd really love to be a professional bowler when I grow up."

Added Stitely: "A big inspiration for any bowler is rolling a 300 game. To see it done by someone of such a young age who held down his nervousness enough to roll the 10th, 11th and 12th strikes was just phenomenal to see."

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