Hale, Norton split top prizes at 650/under 9-Ball event at The Cue Club in Lexington, KY

Brandyn Hale, Brad Diehl and Dylan Norton

The city of Lexington, KY, commonly known as the “Horse Capital of the World,” is better known for its thoroughbred race horses than it is for the ‘stake horses’ that play a prominent role in the world of competitive pool. The Cue Club – Billiards and Sports Hub, located on the southern end of a 20-mile ‘ring’ road (Rte. 4) that surrounds the city, is a room about which one patron (just last month) noted that the room’s ‘professional caliber standards’ qualify it for  elevation from ‘pool hall’ to ‘billiard parlor’ status. It’s the most prominent, well-known billiard parlor in the city and hosts chapters of at least three pool leagues (USAPL, BCA and APA). Those leagues no doubt fed into the 650-and-under, Fargo-rated 9-Ball Tournament that drew 65 entrants there this past weekend (Sat., May 11, spilling into the early hours of May 12). 

The event didn’t feature a lot of ‘name’ players, and was not won by its highest (647) or second highest (646) Fargo-rated competitor. Its third-highest competitor, Dylan Norton (640), did finish as runner-up to Brandyn Hale (613), who went undefeated to the hot seat and split the top two prizes with Norton. The Fargo-rated skill levels ranged down into the 200s (just one), with the bulk of the field (46) split between competitors in the 500 (25) and 400 (21) range. There were 15 competitors at or above 600.

Hale’s path to the hot seat went through Christopher Cheek, Rick Engle, Matt Summers and Kelly Lovins to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Norton. From the other end of the bracket, Brad Diehl (564), bound for the hot seat match, got by Darren Lee Watkins, Kenny Tran, Jimmy Carey, and Ray Hayden to draw Brett Rhea in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Hale and Norton battled to double hill in the first of what might have been two matches, had they not opted out of rematch in the final. It was Hale who advanced to the hot seat match, met by Diehl, who’d sent Rhea to the loss side 6-2. Hale claimed the hot seat over Diehl 7-2 in what proved to be his last match.

On the loss side, Norton picked up Ray Hayden, who’d followed his winners’ side quarterfinal loss to Diehl with a shutout over Gale Gregg and a 5-3 win over Jamie Barlow. Rhea drew Nathan Gadd, who’d lost his second-round match to Dylan Norton 7-3 and embarked on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently eliminated Kelly Lovins 4-1 and Jimmy Carrey 4-2.

With a potential Norton/Gadd rematch on the quarterfinal horizon, Norton defeated Hayden 7-4. Gadd made it happen with a 4-2 victory over Rhea. Gadd began the quarterfinal with three ‘beads on the wire’ in a race to 7 which, predictably, went double hill. In his first of two, double-hill matches in a row, Norton defeated Gadd a second time, by the same 7-3 score that he’d defeated him in the second round of play.

With Diehl, coming off his loss versus Hale in the hot seat match, the semifinal match versus Norton went double hill, too. With Diehl racing to 6, Norton won his second straight double-hill match 7-5, for a shot at Hale in the hot seat. The match didn’t happen as Hale and Norton negotiated a split of the top two prizes.

Tour director and owner of The Cue Club, Wes Jackson noted the performance of Maryann Elkins, who became the event’s top female finisher and congratulated Cameron Martin for winning the “Capone” cue raffle. Next up at The Cue Club will be a June 1, anniversary tournament commemorating the Club’s five years in business. On July 20, the Club will hold the second of its three Kentucky State Championship events; the 8-Ball Championships were held this past April, the 10-Ball Championships will be on the July date, with the 9-Ball Championships scheduled for October 19. The series allows competitors to accumulate points based on their finish in the events and at the end of the 9-Ball Championships in October, the player with the highest point total in two separate divisions (660+ Fargo and 599 Maximum Fargo) will win a $1,000 bonus award. Interested competitors can head to The Club’s Facebook page for further information about these and other events at The Cue Club.

Go to discussion...


Leave a comment

Please log in to comment