Mike Pankoff wins Az State One Pocket Crown

Mike Pankoff

A small but strong field of 18 players made their way up north to On The Snap Billiards in beautiful Prescott Arizona for the Arizona State One Pocket Championship, the sixth stop on the Arizona State All Around Tour.

One of the stars of this event was Rodney 'Babe' Thompson. Thompson came out of tournament retirement last year for the all around tour and has been a regular at every event. In a day when you can find a young ball banger in every room who wants to be the next Tom Cruise, Babe is a nice reminder of how classy the game of pool can be as well as it's players.

Babe found himself in trouble in his first match of the event as Tucson sharpshooter Chris Bradford had him stuck 3-0 in the race to four. It was certainly not the first time had Thompson has been stuck like this in a tournament and he turned to his years of experience as he came back to win the match 4-0. Babe finally ran into All Around Points Leader Terry Osborne and found himseld on the one-loss side of the board.

The final four players made their way back on Sunday to decide who the final winner would be. The winners side was Terry Osborne and Az State 9-Ball Champion Mike Pankoff. The one loss side was Babe Thompson and Az Billiard News columnist Chris 'The Weasel' Adams. Weasel matched up last year in the One Pocket Championship against Babe and it was a true battle. This years match would be no different. Part of the game of one pocket is determining how much you want to risk it when going after offensive shots with the chance of selling out the game if you miss. Both games one and two saw Weasel leave Babe very tough shots only to see Babe fire them in and run out the racks. Before he knew it, Weasel found himself in a 0-2 hole in the race to three match. While Adams may not have the years of experience that Babe has, Adams has all the ability of any top player in this state and he proved it as he made great shot after great shot to knot the match at 2-2. The final game came down to the last two balls with Adams making a great shot to get out and eliminate Thompson.

On the winners side, Osborne arrived to find Pankoff already hard at work practicing for their hot-seat match. Pankoff offered Osborne some time to practice and Osborne explained he didn't need any warm up time and wanted to get the match underway. Osborne was right as he won the flip and proceeded to break and run the first rack. Osborne held a 2-0 lead when he finally gave Pankoff an open shot at the table and Pankoff showed he didn't get to the hot-seat match by watching people play. Pankoff ran the 3rd rack and went on to score a hard fought win in game four to tie the match. The match ended up going to 3-3 and one game would determine who would take the hot-seat and who would move to the left side of the board and take on Adams. A couple early misses by Pankoff sealed his fate in this game as Osborne took full advantage and won the game 8-0.

Adams had revenge on his mind in the match against Pankoff since it was Pankoff who sent him to the one loss side on Saturday. Adams started off with an 8-2 win in game one, but that was all the games he would get as Pankoff won the next three games to earn the rematch with Osborne in the finals.

The final extended race to four match saw Pankoff take control early and win the first game 8-2. Pankoff kept the pressure on and won the next game 8-0 for a 2 game lead. Osborne went with a different tactic in the third game and called his pocket and proceeded to crush the rack hoping for a ball in his pocket. This approach works wonders when a ball goes in your pocket leaving a wide open table to pocket balls. It doesn't work so well when nothing goes in your pocket. Unfortunately for Osborne, nothing went in his pocket and Pankoff made quick work of the rack for a 3-0 lead. The last rack was a formality as Pankoff went on to score the win and earn his second major title this year, the Arizona State One Pocket Championship.

The second place finish solidified Osborne's hold on first place on the points list, but Pankoff's first place finish moved him into second place on the points list and definitely within striking distance of Osborne and first place.

Complete Results: 1st Mike Pankoff $950 2nd Terry Osborne $560 3rd Chris Adams $260 4th Rodney "Babe" Thompson $100