Cruz goes undefeated to take Christmas/Player Appreciation stop on the GSBT


After playing on the Great Southern Billiard Tour for a number of years, Carlos Cruz chalked up his first victory on the tour, on the weekend of December 15-16. He went undefeated, and stopped a five-match, loss-side winning streak by his finals opponent, another GSBT regular, Jared McGee.

The $1,500-added amateur event was the GSBT's annual Christmas/Player Appreciation tournament and the final stop on the 2012 tour. The event's 72 entrants and assorted spectators were treated to a Christmas meal by the tour and Jimmie and Jenny Bullis, owners of the host room, Speak Eazy Billiards in Sanford, NC.

"We fed about 100 people," said tour director Shannon Daulton. "They had turkey and honey-baked ham, provided by Jimmie and Jenny."

Daulton has been shuttling back and forth between his tour stops and Las Vegas, where he has been preparing for his role as a member of the World Professional Billiard League's Atlanta Scorpions (along with Johnny Archer and Dennis Hatch). That league is scheduled to debut its 2013 season on Thursday, January 3, at 7 p.m. with a match between Daulton's Scorpions and the New York Pride (Earl Strickland, Larry Nevel and Warren Kiamco). First things first, though, and Daulton was front and center for his tour's player appreciation event.

Eventual finalists, Cruz and McGee battled together to move among the final eight winners, at which point, McGee was moved west by B.J. Hucks in a double hill match. Cruz advanced to take on Terri Faulk, while Hucks faced Barry Mashburn. Both winners' side semifinals turned into double hill affairs, as Hucks got by Mashburn, and Cruz downed Faulk. The hot seat match went down to the wire, as well. Cruz prevailed and sat in the hot seat, awaiting the return of McGee.

McGee began his march back to the finals with a 9-6 win over Derek Leonard, and followed it with a double hill win over David Carver. This set McGee up to face Faulk. Mashburn, coming over from the winners' side final four, drew Keith Simmons, who'd downed Hope Gladden 7-2 and Aaron McClure 7-3 to reach him. Simmons and McGee gave up a single rack each in their matches against Mashburn and Faulk and moved on to face each other in the quarterfinals.

McGee then dropped Simmons into fourth place, and followed that up with his fifth, loss-side victory, 9-5 over Hucks in the semifinals. With McGee racing to nine, Cruz completed his undefeated run through the field of 72 with a 7-7 victory in the finals.

Daulton and co-tour director Marge Cooper thanked Jimmie and Jenny Bullis for their continuing support of the GSBT, and in particular, for their singular, "first-class" effort with this Christmas/Player Appreciation event. In addition, as the 2012 season drew to its close, they wished thanks and a happy holiday season to all of the tour's venue owners who've contributed to the tour throughout the year, as well as sponsors Nick Varner Cues and Cases, Andy Gilbert Custom Cues, Tiger Products, Delta-13 Racks,  and Steve Lomax Cues.