Doug Hale wins Az State Barbox 8-Ball Title

Doug Hale and tournament director Jaz

The 2005 Arizona State All-Around Tour kicked off on July 9th with the Arizona State Barbox 8-Ball Championship at Metro Sportz Bar in Phoenix. Although there was a US Open qualifier scheduled across town, the field of 30 players did not disappoint any of the fans on hand to watch the best Arizona barbox players do battle.

With the field being narrowed down to just eight players by the end of day one, there were bound to be some top players eliminated on Saturday. Last year's all-around runner-up (and 2005 Great Arizona Ring Game winner) Don Westbrooks was just one of the top seeds sent home with two losses on Saturday. Westbrooks started with a win over Doug Hale, but then lost to fellow Tucsonians John Polowski and George Ramirez. Westbrooks was joined by Chris Adams, James Lester and Ed Scott in the 'early elimination' gang.

Sunday morning dawned with four players left on the winners side and four players left on the one loss side, with all players in the money. On the winners side, Tucsonians Chris Bradford and John Polowski matched up on the top half of the board, while reigning all-around Champion Tony Confalone faced Eric Olson from Prescott on the bottom half.

Chris Bradford looked strong in the match with Polowski and got to the hill first at 6-3. Polowski showed his determination by winning three straight games to tie the match at 6-6 before Bradford was able to put it away. Meanwhile, Tony Confalone had his hands full with Eric Olson in the other winners side match, but came through with a 7-4 win.

On the one loss side, Dennis Orender faced off against Terry Osborn on the bottom half of the bracket, while Doug Hale took on Rodney 'Babe' Thompson on the top of the board. Doug Hale had won four matches on Saturday to earn his place playing on Sunday, and he quickly showed that he was not content with just making it to Sunday. Hale rolled over Thomson 7-0. At the same time, Terry Osborn earned a comfortable 7-3 win over Dennis Orender.

In the second round on Sunday, both players coming over from the winners side dropped matches and settled for 5th place ties. Polowski had no answer for Terry Osborn as Osborn cruised to a 7-1 win. Doug Hale had a much tougher time with Eric Olson, but took control with the match tied at 4-4 and won three games to take the match.

The match for the hot seat between Chris Bradford and Tony Confalone was a rematch of the hot seat match from last year, with a slightly different outcome. While Confalone got the win last year, he was plagued by some uncharacteristic errors that Bradford was more than happy to take advantage of. Bradford earned the hot-seat with a comfortable 7-2 win.

The match between Doug and Terry on the one-loss side looked good on paper as both players were playing some great 8-ball. What might have looked good on paper turned into a one sided match with Hale taking the match 7-1.

The semi-final match between Doug and Tony was a true battle with both players pouncing on any opportunities. An early error by Confalone led to a 2-0 Hale lead, but a Hale scratch on the break a little later led to Confalone pulling even at 3-3. Confalone took his first lead at 4-3 when Hale missed a tough shot and left Confalone with an open table. The match appeared over as Confalone broke and ran the next two racks to get to the hill at 6-3. Before anyone in the room knew what happened, Doug had tied the match at 6-6 and was breaking for the match. Hale had broke and ran racks all weekend, but that would be too easy with the score tied at 6-6. Hale went for numerous break out trys in the game, but always came up short. He finally went for a shot and missed it, but when the balls stopped rolling, Confalone had no open path to a ball. Confalone studied the table and decided on a kick shot to try to make a ball in the corner. He executed the shot to perfection, but was horror struck as the cue ball followed the object ball into the pocket. Confalone was left with nothing to do but think 'What If' as Hale ran out the rack to earn the 7-6 win.

Doug would then be faced with the task of beating Chris Bradford twice if he wanted to add this title to his already long list of accomplishments. Bradford came out of the gate first and took a 1-0 lead in the first set, but couldn't seem to get it together after that and found himself trailing 4-1 in a hurry. From there, Hale held off Bradford for the 7-3 win in set #1.

Bradford's biggest mistake in the second set might have been not winning the coin flip as it was a good old-fashioned Hale Storm breaking out in the final set. Hale came out on fire and broke and ran the first four racks before he finally came up dry on the break in game 5. Bradford went for a combination to open up a cluster and caromed off cluster into the corner pocket. That would be Bradford's only shot in the set as Hale ran that rack and the next two for a 7-0 win.

Next up in the All-Around Championship is Barbox 9-Ball at Alexanders Sports Bar on the 30th of July. Hope to see everyone there.

The Arizona State All-Around Championship is sponsored by Scott Whisler - Whisler Custom Cues, Hustlin USA and Platinum Billiards.

Complete Results:
1st Doug Gale $1104
2nd Chris Bradford $503
3rd Tony Confalone $347
4th Terry Osborn $231
5th/6th John Polowski, Eric Olson $107.50
7th/8th Dennis Orender, Rodney Thompson $75