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Hone dogs bocce

Hone Dogs members, from left, Joe Russell, Adam Forni, Jefferson Henry, Capo Gianfranco Ghiringhelli, and Cante Swearingen celebrate their title at Peppermill Resort and Casino in Reno.

In their 21st years of playing bocce, St. Helena’s Adam Forni and Cante Swearingen helped the Hone Dogs win the 33rd Annual Peppermill Bocce All-Star Classic last Saturday in Reno, Nev.

Teaming with Capo Gianfranco Ghiringhelli, Jefferson Henry and Joe Russell, the Dogs topped a field of 72 teams in their sixth annual appearance in the two-day tournament at Peppermill Resort and Casino.

“We started off in 1998 at Crane Park on my stepfather’s Ehler’s Grove winery team,” Forni said. “My best friend Cante and I then started our own team and watched the Grapestompers and Olive Oilers to learn how to hone our game.”

Hence the name of their team.

“We wanted to do a play on ‘Hound Dogs’ because we were a bunch of young men who wanted to hone our bocce skills,” Forni explained.

Peppermill hosts one of the largest open rules tournaments in the United States, with a highly competitive field that includes some United States Bocce Federation national champions. Teams are narrowed down through a double-elimination format, playing games to 11 points.

The Hone Dogs were 7-0 going into the final match, having defeated Bocce For the Heart and Soul, Dave’s Angels, Old Fisherman’s Grotto, the Outlaws – the back-to-back champions – and the Bocce Dawgs and Team Napoli.

They faced Team Napoli again in the final. While the Hone Dogs needed just one win to take the title, Team Napoli needed two wins because the Hone Dogs had already given them a loss.

The first game was close early before Team Napoli pulled away for an 11-6 victory, setting up a winner-takes-all final game. It was a classic, back-and-forth affair with each teams seizing momentum at certain points until it was tied 8-8. The Hone Dogs then took control and surged to an 11-8 victory, taking home the coveted Peppermill Bocce Championship along with $2,700 in prize money.

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