BJ Ussery goes undefeated on first Action Pool Tour stop since February

BJ Ussery and Chris Bruner

“Guess who just got back today?
Them wild-eyed boys that’d been away
Haven’t changed, had much to say
But man, I still think them cats are crazy”  – Thin Lizzy “The Boys are Back in Town”

They were joined, it should be noted immediately, by a crew of “wild-eyed girls” who’d been away, too. Dorothy Strater, Cheryl Pritchard, Tina Malm, Bethany Sykes, Reene Driskill, Soo Emmett and Sheri Bruner (mother of the tour’s 2019 Champion, Chris Bruner), who, along with 46 other entrants, signed on to last weekend’s (July 17-18) stop on the Action Pool Tour, hosted by Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA. It was the first stop on the 2021 tour since the VA State 10-Ball Championships in February, and according to co-tour director Kris Wylie, it will be the last until sometime in September. A previously scheduled event, slated for August 14-15 at Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA had to be changed to accommodate amateur league events, scheduled for Las Vegas at the same time. Wylie and room owners, the Wolfords, are still working on details that will determine when, in September, the tour will visit the room.

“We were a little concerned,” noted Wiley of the tour’s return to activity, “what with falling out of the public eye, but we were very happy with the turnout and now, it’s just a matter of sorting out the rest of this year’s schedule.”

Visitors to the Action Pool Tour Web site will note that there’s no tour rankings list as there has been in previous years. That list, normally used to determine who earns entry into a year-end event for the tour, was deemed impractical, given the unexpected cancellation of stops and the ongoing plans for future events.

“We determined that there was no real value to have ‘points leaders’ at this point,” Wylie explained, adding that there will be a year-end event for the tour, but that a means of determining some way to get participants invited is still in the planning stages. “We just couldn’t come up with a way of having a tour leader right now.”

BJ Ussery would likely have been a candidate for top spot on this year’s tour rankings list on the basis of his undefeated run at this past weekend’s event. He came out of the gate real fast, giving up only four racks through his first 36 games to Jamie Bess (0), Graham Swinson (2), Kelly Farrar (0) and James Coleman (2). He drew Collin Hall in one of the winners’ side semifinals.

Ussery’s eventual hot seat opponent, Mac Harrell, had a little different experience with his trip to a winners’ side semifinal matchup versus Scott Roberts. Harrell chalked up the same 32 games-won as Ussery, but he gave up 16 racks to Enrique Barrios (4), Jason Trigo (3), David Parker (4) and David Hunt (5).

Ussery and Harrell downed Hall and Roberts, both 8-5. Ussery claimed the hot seat 8-3 over Harrell, though over his last two matches, he’d dropped his game-winning average from 88% down to 80%. 

On the loss side, Scott Roberts drew Graham Swinson, who followed his 2nd round loss to Ussery with a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that had begun when he eliminated Sheri Bruner, thereby eliminating any hope of a mother-son matchup somewhere down the loss-side line. He had most recently eliminated Thomas Dorsey 7-5 and shut out James Coleman. Collin Hall picked up Chris Bruner, who’d lost a double hill fight to Scott Roberts in one of the winners’ side quarterfinals and realizing that he was not going to have to face his mother in a loss-side match, went on to defeat Shane Buchanan and David Hunt, both 7-4. 

Bruner advanced to the quarterfinals 7-3 over Hall. Roberts joined him for their rematch after ending Swinson’s loss-side streak 7-4. As had happened on the winners’ side, Bruner and Roberts locked up in a double hill fight. The ending was different, with Bruner advancing to face and defeat Mac Harrell 7-5 in the semifinals.

Two very familiar faces in the mid-Atlantic pool scene and to each other squared off in the finals; one, thus far undefeated and the other, having won five on the loss side for the right to play the final match. Ussery prevailed 9-6 to claim his first event title of 2021.

As for the aforementioned ladies who signed on to compete (Sheri Bruner, Dorothy Strater, Cheryl Pritchard, Bethany Sykes, Reene Driskill, Soo Emmet & Tina Malm), Tina Malm advanced the furthest, finishing in the money in the four-way tie for 9th place. 

Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Haselman & Hunt Family Dentistry, George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor) and CSI. As noted, the August 14-15 stop on the Action Pool Tour has been postponed to a date-to-be-determined in September. Visit the tour’s Web site,, for a future announcement.