Before starting the second half of the Bill Mastronardi/Striketown Bowl Masters, a few members of the traveling league had a great ending to 2018 and a great start to the New Year.

On Sunday, the Peoria association Hall of Fame duo of Gary Strait Jr. and Rob Johnson teamed up to win the New Year’s Eve Scratch Doubles event at Striketown Bowl.

They qualified third with a 2,722 total (226.8 average per man), and then won three matches in the stepladder finals to win the $1,300 top prize.

Masters teammates Sammy Taylor Jr. and Bob Ogle were the leading qualifiers with a six-game total of 2,766 (230.5 average per bowler), but lost to Strait and Johnson in the title match. They had a high game of 579, with Ogle rolling a 300 and Taylor a 279.

Chris O’Neil, who finished eighth with Corey Kistner, also rolled a 300 in an 818 series.

Mike McBride and Shawn Reed qualified second with 2,754 and finished third, while Kenny Shockency and Mike McWeathy (fourth with 2,719) were fourth and Mike Peters and Andy Stone (fifth with 2,711) fifth.

Tommy Barnwell won the final event of 2018, the New Year’s Eve Handicap Singles at Landmark Lanes on Monday.

Brian Koplin was the leading qualifier with a six-game total of 1,569 (261.5 average), which included just six pins of handicap. Barnwell qualified fourth for the stepladder finals with a scratch total of 1,435 (239.2).

In the playoffs, he defeated Jason Jones (fifth-place qualifier with 1,427) 224-208; Austin Markley (third, 1,454) 221-211, Marcus Rutledge (second, 1,485) 227-209, and then knocked off Koplin, 235-228, in the title match.

That earned Barnwell the top prize of $525 just a day past his 33rd birthday.

On Tuesday, Steve Taylor and his brother Sammy Taylor Jr. both cashed in the high-scoring New Year’s Day 10-game Scratch Sweeper at Kingpin Lanes in Bridgeton, Mo.

Steve Taylor, using his new Track Precision Solid ball throughout the day, finished fourth in the 42-man field with a 10-game total of 2,452 (245.2 average). He closed with his second 279 of the day to pass a few bowlers.

After a slow start, Sammy Taylor Jr. made a ball change and worked his way up to eighth with 2,398.

Shea Bittenbender and Jerry Dwiggins ended up sharing the title with a 2,555 total, and both bowlers had back-to-back 300s.

FIRST-HALF CHAMPS: The Bill Mastronardi/Striketown Bowl Masters begins the second half on Monday at Linn Lanes in Canton after a two-week break.

Roxy’s Lanes won the first half by 17 points after a 30-20 decision over T-Shirt House during the position-round match at Mt. Hawley.

Paul Lippens led Roxy’s with a 719, captain Brad Moore added 706, Jason Jones 683 and Harley Bollinger 680 in the tight match.

It was the third straight Masters half won by Moore, who was on the team that swept both halves last season. He was high average in the Masters last year.

CITY TOURNAMENT: The Peoria River City USBC Association will host its second annual Open Championships at Landmark Lanes starting this weekend.

The tournament runs the first three weekends of January, and squad times are 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day except for the final day of the event. On Sunday, Jan. 20, the last squad will start at 3:30 p.m.

Entry fee is $25 per person, per event, and there are three divisions. Division A is for bowlers with averages of 210 and above. Division B is for bowlers with averages between 170 and 209. Division C is for bowlers with averages of 169 and below.

PBA OPENER: The TV finals for the season-opening Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Fame Classic is set for 10 a.m. Sunday on Fox Sports.

The finals will be shown live from the Bowling IRTC (International Training & Research Center) in Arlington, Texas.

My son, Andre, and I will be at the telecast after attending the PBA Hall of Fame dinner on Saturday night. It should be a great weekend.

JOHNNY CAMPOS is the Journal Star bowling columnist. He can be reached at 686-3214 or at jcampos@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnnyCampos59.