Bannon wins Tri-State, splits top prizes with Kennedy

Going into the December 8 stop on the Tri-State Tour, Scott Bannon and Dennis Kennedy had each won a previous stop on the tour. Bannon had won two; a year ago on Staten Island, when he and Kennedy were among the winners' side final four, and three years before that in 2009. Kennedy's first Tri-State win came 22 months ago in Queens, when he came back from a loss in the hot seat match to take down Emily Duddy.  Bannon and Kennedy met only once on Saturday, December 8, and it was in the hot seat battle. Bannon won that fight, and claimed the event title when medical issues precluded Kennedy's appearance in the finals. The $1,000-added event drew 31 entrants to Castle Billiards in East Rutherford, NJ.
Their first and only match came after Bannon had sent room owner John Trobiano to the loss side 7-5 and Kennedy had dispatched Jan Mierzwa 6-2 in the two winners' side semifinals. Bannon claimed the hot seat in what proved to be his final win 9-6.
On the loss side, Paul Wilkens, sent west by Mierzwa from among the winners' side final eight, embarked on a four-match, loss-side march to the semifinals with victories over Mike Figueroa 6-3 and Jamiyl Adams 6-4. This set him up for a re-match against Mierzwa. Trobiano, in the meantime, squared off against Borana Andoni, who'd defeated Shin Sekine 7-3 and Ricardo Mejia 7-2 to reach him.
Wilkens and Andoni advanced to the quarterfinals; Andoni with a 7-4 win over Trobiano,  as Wilkens successfully wreaked his vengeance on Mierzwa 6-2. Wilkens and Andoni battled to double hill, and it was Andoni who got the first look at the 9-ball in the deciding game. She attempted a combination on the 9-ball, which not only failed, but left the ball hanging in the hole for Wilkens. Wilkens took aim at a full table bank shot on the 4-ball, which successfully traveled the distance to drop the hanging 9-ball and advance him to the semifinals against Kennedy.
Wilkens jumped out to an early lead in those semifinals, but Kennedy rallied to run up four racks and win it. At this point, Kennedy sighted back-related problems that forced him to forego a final, second match against Bannon, and the two opted to split the top prizes. Bannon, in the hot seat, officially claimed the event title.