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Entries are just starting to trickle in according to tournament director Tony Zaccarella Sr., but another field of top bowlers is expected for the 23rd Tri-City Masters Tournament. It opens Sunday, Feb. 9 with qualifying at Bowl-o-Drome Lanes in Niagara Falls. Entries must be in the hands of the tournament directors by 7 p.m. on Thursday (Feb. 6.).

The Tri-City resulted from the combination of three tournaments run by the Tonawandas, Niagara Falls and Lockport bowling associations in 1992. Each organization at held its own Masters or match play championship – Niagara Falls held its own Masters starting in 1964 – before they got together to hold the Tri-City.

At the same time, each association recognizes its high finisher in the Tri-City as its champion and awards a trophy and a $300 cash prize. The overall winner will receive $12,000 based on 82 entries.

Peter Maduri of Tonawanda received automatic entry to the 24-bowler match-play field as the defending champion. Although Maduri moved to Texas, he bowled enough games (21) in the Tonawandas Association to establish an average and be eligible for this year’s Masters.

A six-game qualifier will be held on Feb. 9 starting at 11 a.m. The top 23 will join Maduri in the 24-bowler match-play field the following Sunday, Feb. 16, for two-game matches also starting at 11 a.m.

Among the entries already in are three-time (2000, 2010, 2011) winner Gary Kinyon of Lockport. Mike Hanes, the 2009 champion and a four-time runner-up, is also in the field.

Zaccarella Sr., who is in the Niagara Falls Men’s Bowling Association Hall of Fame, himself is a one-time Tri-City runner-up.

“I lost to Jack Jurek the first year,” Zaccarella Sr., said. “He won it four times in a row.”

Jurek tacked on a fifth title in 1998. He is the leader in all-time titles. Kinyon is next with three and also has three runner-up finishes and three top finishes in qualifying play, to his credit. Pat Brick owns a pair of titles.

Maduri defeated Mike Bedford of Lockport, 389-375, in last year’s finals.

The top eight qualifiers are seeded into the second-round of match play, but that is no guarantee of success. Matt Ciminelli was the top qualifier last season and was eliminated in his first match by Hanes,

Hanes and Tony Dolan were two unseeded bowlers who advanced as far as the semifinals last year. Hanes narrowly was defeated by Maduri, 427-426. Dolan lost to Bedford after eliminating No. 2 qualifier Jason Ciliberto in the third round.

State tourneys upcoming

The New York State Masters will be held on March 1 at Pat Tarsio Lanes in Newburgh.

Entry fee is $90 if paid by Feb. 22 – a $15 savings. Squad times are at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Re-entry will be allowed (if room on the squad), with the re-entry fee set at $85.

Also, the Empire State USBC Association reports that 64 paid entries have been received for the New York State Queens Championship on April 12 at Hoe Bowl Holiday Bowl in Wappingers Falls.

The Queens features competition in Open and Classified (194-and-under) Divisions.

More than 400 teams have already entered the 78th annual NYS Women’s Championships April 5-6, 11-13, 26-27, May 2-4 and May 17-18 at Hoe Bowl Mardi-Bob Lanes in Poughkeepsie. Entries close on March 5.

Pin chasers

• Chad Mee of Frontier High is among the area entrants listed for next month’s USBC Masters Tournament Feb. 16-23 at the Brunswick Zone Carolier, North Brunswick, N.J.

Jason Belmonte of Australia, who won last Sunday’s Tournament of Champions in Allen Park, Mich., is defending Masters champion.

• Belmonte and Sean Rash will meet in the first PBA Super Clash (4 p.m., ESPN) on Sunday. The three-game total pinfall match in Allen Park, Mich., was taped last Sunday for showing this weekend. The winner of each game will earn a $2,000 prize and the overall winner $10,000.

email: mnorthrop@buffnews.com