Mike Pankoff wins Olhausen Desert All Around Stop 3

Mike Pankoff

The Olhausen Billiards Desert All Around Tour held their 3rd event of the year; barbox 8-ball at Metro Sportz Bar in Phoenix, Arizona with a field of 68 players ranging from as far away as Philadelphia.

It was a typically strong field with two time defending champion (and reigning all around champion) Doug Hale joined by points leader Jimmy Mendoza, former all around champions Terry Osborne and Tony Confalone as well as February event winner Mitch Ellerman, Arizona BCA Masters Champion Dennis Orender and Tres Kane.

Early round marquee matches saw Tres Kane send Babe Thompson to the one loss side and Jim Rabatin hand Brad Johnson an early loss.

On the winners side, Dennis Orender was navigating a tough draw with wins over Doug Hale and Terry Osborne leading to a showdown with young gun Mitch Ellerman on Sunday. Dennis took an early 4-0 lead, but Ellerman came back to win seven of the next eight games for the 7-4 win.

Ellerman's next opponent was Mike Pankoff for the hot-seat. Pankoff had been using a soft break thoughout the day and confounding opponents who tried to run out the heavily clustered racks and finding themselves unable to finish the task more times than not. Pankoff's soft break led to a 7-4 win over Ellerman and a spot in the finals.

Defending champion Doug Hale found himself in trouble early Sunday on the one loss side as barbox veteran Kristin Haney took a quick 3-0 lead in thier match. Hale calmly won the next seven games to take the match and move on to face Babe Thompson. Thompson was teaching the younger players how 8-ball is meant to be played all through the event and this match was no different. Thompson maneuvered his way through racks and played lock-up safeties to take a 6-0 lead over Hale. Hale finally got on the board at 6-1, but Thompson put him away in the next rack.

In the same round, 2004 All Around Champion Tony Confalone eliminated 2005 All Around Champion Terry Osborne 7-5. Confalone was then sent to the seats by a hot-shooting Ben Hrabina.

As the field narrowed on the one loss side, Jimmy Mendoza took advantage of an uncharacteristic missed 8-ball by Babe Thompson and won three games for a 7-6 win, but then went on to lose a hill-hill match to Dennis Orender. Orender then lost to Gus Briseno 7-5.

The semi-final match between Briseno and Ellerman was a true battle. Ellerman was playing all day with the enthusiasm of youthful eyes and no fear at the table as he ran out from everywhere. Briseno took a quick 2-0 lead, but Ellerman came back to tie the match at 2-2. Briseno took the lead back at 5-3 and the match looked to be over at 6-5 but Briseno overdrew the cue ball and found himself frozen to his next ball. A tough miss by Briseno led to hill-hill. The deciding game saw Briseno take a tough roll as he broke out a pack and watched in horror as the 8-ball slowly made it's way across the table into the side pocket to give the game to Ellerman.

The finals between Pankoff and Ellerman saw Ellerman run out to an early 3-0 lead before Ellerman got on the board at 3-1. Pankoff used his soft break to win the next two games but Ellerman took control after that and cruised to a 7-3 win in the first set of the true double elimination finals.

The second set of the finals saw Pankoff abandon his soft break and instead go for the break and run. This decision proved to be the right one as Pankoff was able to win the match 7-3 for his first Desert All Around Tour win in over two years.

As is always the case on tour, the players that stuck around after being eliminated in the first three rounds were eligible to win prizes donated by tour sponsors. All of the remaining players won a prize in the drawing and Brady Juve won the big prize of the brand new cue donated by McDermott cues.

The Olhausen Billiards Desert All Around Tour is sponsored by Olhausen Billiards ("The Best in Billiards"), as well as McDermott Handcrafted Cues, Visual Impressions, Aramith Billiard Balls, Tiger Products, Whisler Custom Cues, OnQ Cases, Tweeten Fibre, Joe Tucker, Billiards Press and Billiards Digest.