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Ussery wins by the toss of a coin on the Action Pool Tour

BJ Ussery, Tiger Baker and Brandon Shuff

They tossed a coin.

Normally, when two competitors at a pool tournament meet in the early hours of the morning to discuss a deal for opting out of a final match and splitting the top two cash prizes, one of the two has already claimed the hot seat. And more often than not, it’s the occupant of the hot seat who is declared the official winner.

This past weekend (Oct. 16-17), Brandon Shuff and BJ Ussery took a different approach to things on the Action Pool Tour, when it came down to the finals and determining the official winner. Much earlier, Shuff had won the hot seat match over Ussery, but when it came to the final match, they opted to flip a coin to determine the official winner. Ussery won the toss. The event – The 2021 Pineapple Morris Memorial 10-Ball Open – drew 27 entrants to Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA, where Pineapple Morris was the doorman at Barry Behrman’s annual US Open 9-Ball Championship for many years. 

Ussery’s path to the hot seat match, following a play-in round for his first opponent, went through just two opponents before arriving at a winners’ side semifinal match against Liz Taylor. He gave up only two racks to those first two opponents – Bruce Reed (0) and Chris Pyle (2). From the opposite end of the bracket, Shuff competed in the play-in round, downing Donnie Huett 7-2 and then, meeting and defeating Amory Capers 7-2 and James Blackburn 7-4, to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal versus Dwight Cherry.

Shuff sent Cherry to the loss side 7-4, as Ussery was shutting out Liz Taylor. Shuff claimed the hot seat 7-4.

On the loss side, Taylor picked up Jared Pitts, who’d lost a winners’ side quarterfinal match to Cherry and then, survived both a double hill match against Jimmy Bird and eliminated James Blackburn 7-3. Cherry drew Amory Capers, who’d recently eliminated Chris Pyle, double hill and Kenny Daughtrey 7-4.

Pitts and Capers advanced to the quarterfinals by the same score; Pitts defeating Taylor and Capers downing Pitts, both 7-4. Taylor’s finish in the tie for 5th place earned her an extra $100 as the event’s top-finishing female. Pitts took the quarterfinal match 7-3 over Capers before having his four-match, loss-side winning streak ended by Ussery 7-4 in the semifinals.

Ussery and Shuff flipped the coin that made Ussery the official winner.

Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Q Master Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Haselman and Hunt, D.D.S., P.C. Family Dentistry, George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor) and CueSports International. The next event on the Action Pool Tour, scheduled for the weekend of November 13-14, will be the 2021 VA State 8-Ball Championships, featuring Open and Ladies competition. The event will be hosted by Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.

Gray goes undefeated to claim MD State 8-Ball title

Loye Bolyard, Tuan Chau, Dave Nangle, Jordan Gray and Rick Scarlato, Jr.

It is arguably heartening to know that Pro Football’s  “Any Given Sunday” rule is alive and well and living on pool tables from coast to coast. The unwritten rule dictates that on any given Sunday, a football team, no matter what its history or record going into the game, is capable of beating a team with a much better record and greater odds of winning. Translated to the fields of felt-covered slate, it means that in any given tournament, a player with limited history at the tables, with fewer earnings than any number of potential opponents can win a tournament, populated by players with much more robust track records. As in the way that the ‘rule’ is applied to football, it presupposes that the lesser-skilled team/individual player has some decent measure of experience on the playing field and that no one has to explain to a player how the game is played, or in the case of pool, which end of the cue stick to use when attempting to pocket a ball.

The 2021 Maryland State 8-Ball Championships, held this past weekend (July 24-25) drew 42 competitors to Champion Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, MD. Many of those in attendance were seasoned veterans; known competitors, not only in the mid-Atlantic region, but at nationwide events dating back years. Brandon Shuff and Steve Fleming, for example, who are former Tour Champions of the Action Pool Tour; Fleming in 2018 and runner-up in 2019, Brandon Shuff in 2015. Or Joey Korsiak, who’s been in the AZBilliards database since before the turn of the century. Or Bethany Sykes, who’s won Ladies events on the Action Pool Tour, the National Pool Tour (NAPT) and was the VA Women’s 8-Ball Champion in 2018. 

The winner (Jordan Gray) and runner-up (Tuan Chau) in this 2021 Maryland State 8-Ball Championship, combined, have recorded career earnings less than, as an example, Joey Korsiak earned winning this past May’s MD State 9-Ball Championships and this past June’s Dynaspheres Cup 8-Ball Championships. The winner, Jordan Gray, went undefeated through the field and it wasn’t entirely due to the luck of the bracket draws. He defeated the aforementioned Steve Fleming in the third round, and in his winners’ side semifinal, faced and defeated Bryan Jones, who’d sent Joey Korsiak to the loss side in the winners’ side quarterfinals.

It’s an “Any Given Sunday” reminder to veterans and a reminder to up-and-coming challengers, from wherever they may emerge, to “play the table, not the opponent.”

Gray’s path to the winners’ circle went through Randy Davis, Jeremy Mason and Fleming without giving up more than three racks in any of those first three matches, which put him into the winners’ side semifinal against Bryan Jones. In the meantime, Dylan Spohr, got by Randy Clepper, Leroy Taylor and the eventual runner-up, Tuan Chau, to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal matchup versus Brandon Shuff.

Spohr dispatched Shuff to the loss side 6-1. Gray joined him after surviving a double hill match against Jones. Gray survived a second straight double hill match in his battle for the hot seat and sat in it, waiting for Chau to complete his five-match, loss-side winning streak.

It was Jones who moved over and picked up Chau, who’d followed his shutout defeat at the hands of Spohr with loss-side victories over Joonick Jun 6-3 and Russell Obaker 6-2. Shuff drew Korsiak, who, after his defeat at the hands of Bryan Jones, had eliminated Clint Clayton 6-4 and just did survive a double hill battle against Steve Fleming.

In one of the more ‘classic’ matchups of the event, Shuff defeated Korsiak 6-4. Chau, in the meantime, had eliminated Jones by the same score to face Shuff in the quarterfinals.

Chau won two straight double hill matches to earn his spot in the finals. He downed Shuff in the quarterfinals and Spohr in the semifinals. Chau chalked up a third double hill win in the opening set of the finals. Gray, though, won the second set 6-4 to become the 2021 Maryland State 8-Ball Champion.

On the Hill Productions’ Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Championship Billiards for their hospitality, as well as their “generous tournament and streaming sponsors” AZBilliards, Aramith Balls, Mezz Cues, Turtle Racks, Simonis Cloth, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region, Safe Harbor Investments, Poison Cues, Gina Cunningham of Keller Williams Integrity. They also gave a shout out to Josh Parks, for his photography work at the events.

Next up will be the MD State 10-Ball Championships, scheduled for August 28-29. For further information, follow On the Hill Productions on Facebook.

Shuff double dips Ussery in finals of MD State Bar Table 10-Ball Championships

Loye Bolyard, BJ Ussery, Brandon Shuff and Rick Scarlato

Brandon Shuff was runner-up to Grai Rasmechai, known as Pooky, in the 2019 MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships. Pooky had sent him to the loss side in a winners’ side semifinal and Shuff had to win three on the loss side to get back to the finals. Shuff took the opening set of a true double elimination final, only to have Pooky come back and win the second set to claim the event title. In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, this year’s MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships were, to a point, as Yogi once said (of Mantle and Maris hitting back-to-back home runs in a game), “like déjà vu all over again.” For the second year in a row, Shuff found himself at work on the loss side of the bracket in this annual event to earn a shot in the finals. This time, though, he got to the loss side earlier for a nine-game winning streak and eventually won both sets of a true double elimination final to claim the 2020 title. The event, held under the auspices of On the Hill Productions, drew 81 entrants to Brews & Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.

Shuff was awarded an opening round bye before winning his first opening match against Louis Wehage 7-1. In his second round match, Shuff was sent to the loss side 7-5 by the opponent that he’d defeated in the quarterfinals last year, Dylan Spohr. Spohr followed Shuff over when he was defeated by Nathan Childress in the next round, 7-5. Childress, a former two-time BEF junior champion (’15 & ’16; 14 & under), had (after a bye) chalked up an opening round shutout over Dylan Carr, before defeating, in order, Brett Stottlemeyer 7-4, Spohr, and Johnny Archer 7-5, to draw Rick Molineiro in one of the winners’ side semifinals.

In the meantime, BJ Ussery, who’s recently been popping up and winning all over the US landscape (most recently, Nov. 19-22, as runner-up to Jeffrey DeLuna in the 9-ball division of the 1st Annual Meucci Classic in Florida) was working his way to the hot seat. He’d opened with a shutout over Josh Harget and followed with victories over Jordee Palmieri 7-4, Joshua McCauley 7-2, Joseph Tomkowski 7-5 and Tom Zippler 7-5, to arrive at the other winners’ side semifinal, versus Redgie Cutler.

Ussery got into the hot seat match with a 7-1 victory over Cutler. Molineiro joined him after sending Childress over 7-3. Ussery claimed the hot seat 7-2 and waited for the fateful return of Shuff.

Over on the loss side, Shuff was not being handed any sort of a free ticket back to the finals. Though he started with a 7-1 victory over Jimmy Bird and a 7-2 win over Stottlemeyer, Shuff’s next few opponents started adding more and more beads to their side of the wire. He downed Joseph Tomkowski 7-3, Kevin West 7-5, Clint Clayton 7-5 and downed Mike Saleh 7-3 (Saleh had just eliminated Johnny Archer in a double hill battle). It was Cutler who picked him up, those six wins into his loss-side winning streak. Shaun Wilkie, who’d won three matches on the winners’ side before Cutler had sent him to the loss side 7-2, got right back on the ‘horse,’ to down Shane Wolford (partner with Nathan Childress in winning the October MD State Scotch Doubles 9-Ball Championship) and Tony Long, both 7-5, to draw Childress.

Shuff chalked up loss-side win #7 against Cutler 7-4. Though there was a high degree of anticipation in place for the Wilkie/Childress match, based primarily on the young man’s winners’ side victories in this event and recent success in other On the Hill Productions’ tournaments, the hoped-for ‘nail biter’ didn’t happen. Wilkie shut the young man out and advanced to face Shuff in the quarterfinals.

The quarterfinals, too, were a highly anticipated match between two of the mid-Atlantic’s powerhouse players. And that match, to a certain extent, lived up to its billing. Shuff and Wilkie came within a game of double hill, but in the end, Shuff edged out in front to win it by two, 7-5.

Shuff took his final step toward a place in the finals with a similar 7-5 win over Molineiro in the semifinals.

It was getting late and there was little doubt that the two players in the finals – Shuff and BJ Ussery – were already tired. Though true, it is assuredly not an excuse that any player uses to validate poor play, or losing a match. Ussery lost the opening set of the final 7-2, and though he put up a fight in the second set, Shuff won the double hill second set to claim the title.

“Brandon’s a great player,” acknowledged Ussery. “I knew going in that he was the kind of player who maybe was only going to make one mistake, and not a big mistake at that.”

“He played absolutely perfectly,” he added. “He kicked the 10-ball in twice.”

On the Hill Productions, in the persons of Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues on the Boulevard for their hospitality, as well as sponsors the Chesapeake Bay TAP League, Aramith Balls, and Simonis Cloth.

Stottlemeyer comes from the loss-side to win 2020 MD State 9-Ball Bar Table Championship

Loye Bolyard, Brett Stottlemeyer and Rick Scarlato Jr. (Erwin Dionisio)

With recognizeable and historically successful names among the 103 who signed on to compete in the 2020 Maryland State Bar Table 9-Ball Championships this past weekend (July 25-26), you’d have expected a few ‘fireworks;’ memorable games, epic matchups, and a nail-biting finish. That happened actually, just not among the names one might have expected.

It was won by one of those recognizeable names – Brett Stottlemyer – who came from the loss side to down Oklahoma’s Joe Tomkowski, a lesser known competitor, whose last known cash prize shooting pool occurred in 2013 at a stop on the Midwest 9-Ball Tour, and only two other times before that, in 2011. It should be noted that while Stottlemyer has been a consistent competitor in the Mid-Atlantic region, he hadn’t chalked up a major victory either, since he won the VA State 10-Ball Championship in 2013. Since that time, Stottlemyer found himself in a situation where, as a grandparent, he had to care for three grandchildren. This had a way of curtailing the kind of road experiences that would normally have kept him competing on, as an example, The Action Pool Tour, or anything really outside of his home area.

“We had to go through parenting again,” he explained of his somewhat prolonged absence. “We’d already raised three and (then), we were raising three more.”

Recently, Stottlemeyer has been competing at regular tournaments, hosted by Brews & Cues on the Boulevard, in Glen Burnie, MD, which hosted this most recent MD State Bar Box 9-Ball Championships.

“In the past month and half,” he said, “I beat Shaun Wilkie in the finals of the 9-Ball tournament (at Brews & Cues) and then, I beat him in 8-Ball, too.”

This edition of the MD State Bar Box 9-Ball Championships drew 103 entrants to Brews & Cues.

Brandon Sluzalis, who won last year’s event, did not compete this year, although four other ‘Brandon’s did (Shuff, Vaughn, Rippeon and Kreider). Shaun Wilkie, who was last year’s runner-up, stepped up to the plate and got the fireworks going by shutting out his first three opponents; Shawn Heller, William Pollock and Stefanie Manning. Johnny Archer shut out two of his first four opponents (Zack Strong and Mark Ford), sandwiching-in two victories in which he gave up only five racks; 2 to Brian Jones and 3 to Clint Clayton.

By the time the winners’ side field had whittled down to eight, some of the other more recognizeable competitors had already been moved to the loss side. Brandon Shuff, for example, along with Matt Krah, Brian Dietzenbach, Paul Oh, Del Sim and a few others. By the time the winners’ side was down to four, the eventual winner, Stottlemyer, had joined them. So had Archer.

Wilkie was still alive and in his winners’ side semifinal, facing Dylan Spohr, who finished in the tie for 13th last year. Mr. Tomkowski, in the meantime, squared off against Tony Long, who’d been responsible for sending Archer to the loss side.

By identical 7-5 scores, Spohr downed Wilkie and Tomkowski defeated Long. By yet another 7-5 score (indicative, in most cases, of a ‘fireworks’ type of match), Tomkowski, competing in only his second (recorded) hot seat match, sent Spohr over and claimed the hot seat.

On the loss side, moving into the money rounds, many of the expected ‘fireworks’ dispensers were still in play. Joining them in the 5th money round (competing for 5th/6th), Long and Wilkie ran into a couple of them; Stottlemyer and Shuff. Stottlemyer, in his first loss-side match, had survived a double hill battle against Eric Heiland and then eliminated Paul Oh by shutting him out, which led to him drawing Long. Shuff, playing in his third loss-side match, had defeated Brandon Rippeon 7-1 and then, 7-5, eliminated Matt Krah, who had just defeated Johnny Archer, also 7-5. Shuff picked up Wilkie.

Shuff and Wilkie got into one of the aforementioned ‘epic battles’ in their mutual desire for advancement to the quarterfinals. Shuff won the double hill battle. Stottlemyer joined him after defeating Long 7-2.

Stottlemyer and Shuff would both end up winning five on the loss side. Stottlemyer’s five would put him into the finals. Shuff’s run would end in the quarterfinals in another ‘epic battle’ waged by opponents very familiar with each other. This, too, went double hill before Stottlemyer advanced to tackle Dylan Spohr in the semifinals.

That semifinal match was not nearly as ‘epic’ as the two that had preceded it. Stottlemyer shut Spohr out for his shot against Tomkowski, waiting for him in the hot seat.

It was a true double elimination final, so Stottlemyer had to defeat Tomkowski twice. It was clear from the outset that while Stottlemyer came to the match with far more experience than Tomkowski, Tomkowski wasn’t going to be lying down anytime soon.

Another epic was in the making. Stottlemyer battled and got out in front by 2 and then won the opening set 7-4. The second set was a highly entertaining mixture of good shooting, timely safeties, and in the end, an epic final shot that gave Stottlemyer the win.

“He broke dry, pushed and I gave it back to him,” said Stottlemyer of that final, double hill rack. “He ended up leaving me the 1-ball and then, when I played the 2-ball, I used the 5-ball, which ended up going further than I expected.”

“Once it was sitting there,” he added, “I got position (and dropped) the 3-ball.”

With the 3-ball gone (and the 4-ball already gone), Stottlemeyer looked along the length of a short rail to see the 5-ball nestled up, fairly tightly, against the 9-ball. With a referee watching to assure that the hit was clean, Stottlemyer caromed the cue ball off of the 5-ball. It shifted right, hit the 9-ball and put it in the hole. Stottlemyer was MD State’s 2020 Bar Table 9-Ball champion.

“It was one of the easiest caroms to play,” he said.

Event directors Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Lucid BallSports (which introduced its new Predator Arena Lights for the tables),, Aramith Balls, Mezz Cues, Simonis Cloth, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region, Turtle Racks, Billiard Sports Network (which live-streamed selected matches throughout the weekend) and Break Out Billiard Apparel.

Turning Stone Classic XXXIII – Brandon Shuff vs Billy Thorpe (2nd table coverage / in progress)

Rasmechai takes two out of three over Shuff to win MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championship

(l to r): Brandon Shuff & Grai (Pooky) Rasmechai

In most double elimination pool tournaments, the winner usually ends up taking down the runner-up, twice; again, usually in the hot seat match and finals. It’s what happened at the 2018 MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships, when Johann Chua defeated Jesus Atencio twice to claim the title. This year, on the weekend of November 30-December 1, a veteran of the mid-Atlantic pool scene returned to the tables after something of a protracted absence and a few appearances on the Action Pool Tour over the past few years. Formerly known as Pooky Rasmeloungon, he has returned to the scene as Grai Rasmechai, maintaining the "Pooky" as a nickname. Pooky had to defeat an opponent, Brandon Shuff, twice this past weekend, but had to face him three times to claim the 2019 MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships. They and a number of competitors in this event have been familiar opponents over the years on (among other tours/events) the Falcon Cue 9-Ball Tour. To get a sense of just how familiar the winner and runner-up in this event have been as been as opponents over the years, it should be noted that they tied for 5th place in the Pennsylvania State 9-Ball Championships, 15 years ago. The $2,000-added event this past weekend drew 103 entrants to Brews & Cues on the Blvd. in Glen Burnie, MD.
Rasmechai got by Heath Willard, Joey Scarlato, James Aranas, Clint Clayton and Brandon Sluzalis to face Shuff for the first time in a winners’ side semifinal. Shuff had defeated Joe Chester, Rick Miller, Alvin Thomas, Shane Wolford, and Shaun Wilkie to reach Rasmechai. In the meantime, Dylan Spohr and Chuck Sampson squared off in the other one. By identical 7-5 scores, Sampson and Rasmechai sent Spohr and Shuff to the loss side. Rasmechai followed his victory over Shuff with a 7-3 victory over Sampson to claim the hot seat.
On the loss side, Shuff picked up Thomas Haas, who’d defeated Rick Molineiro 7-1 and survived a double hill fight against Rob Cord to reach him. Spohr drew Shaun Wilkie, who, following his defeat at the hands of Shuff in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had eliminated Scott Haas 7-2 and Bob Pacheco 7-5.
Anyone familiar with the mid-Atlantic region pool scene who happened to be in attendance or possibly watching the live stream of the event (courtesy of Billiard Sports Network) could see a potential rematch between Shuff and Wilkie looming. Shuff did his part, downing Haas 7-4. Spohr, though, spoiled the reunion by defeating Wilkie 7-1.
Shuff defeated Spohr 7-2 in those quarterfinals and then found himself locked up in a double hill fight versus Sampson in the semifinals. Shuff eventually prevailed to earn himself a spot in the finals.
Shuff walked into a second straight double hill fight in the opening set of the true double elimination final and won it to force a second set. Rasmechai got out in front in the second set, winning it eventually 7-4 to claim his first event title since (according to our records) he won the opening stop of the Seminole Tour's 2005 season.
On The Hill Productions will return to Brews & Cues in Glen Burnie on the weekend of February 8-9 for the Maryland State 8-Ball Bar Table Championships.
Event directors Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked Anthony and Stefanie Manning and their Brews & Cues staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors McDermott Cues, Lights Out Billiards Apparel, TAP Pool League-Chesapeake Bay Region, Billiards Sports Network, AZBilliards, Aramith Balls and Simonis Cloth.

International 9-Ball Open Day Two Complete

Nguyen Phuc Long (Erwin Dionisio)

Matches began on day two of the International 9-Ball Open Tuesday at 10:30 AM and the  featured match was  between 3 time VNEA National Champion Danny Olson and European Mosconi Cup member Alex Kazakis. The match went back and forth until the score was 4-4 and then Kazakis caught a gear that took him to  a 10-5 lead, needing only one more rack for the win. Olson then found his momentum and soon brought the score to 10-8, but the comeback  was not to be. In the final rack Olson stumbled on the three ball and Kazakis ran the rack for the win. Another match of note was between our defending champion Jung-Lin Chang and Che-Wei Fu. This one saw Fu controlling the first half of the match and Chang fighting back in the second half. It came down to a nail-biting double-hill finish with Chang sinking the final ball for the win. 
The second round saw Alex Pagulayan using his pixie dust on Josh Roberts for an 11-4 victory while Ko Ping-Chung got past Brandon Shuff 11-5. Meanwhile, Ping-Chung’s younger brother Ping-Han was gathering experience playing Dennis Orcollo on the TV table. Experience is all he would earn as Orcollo took him down 11-6. Chris Robinson shot an amazing match to overpower Naoyuki Oi 11-4 and Marco Teutscher won over Wu Kun Lin 11-8.
The third round of day featured Corey Duel and Max Eberle both competing in the same round. They are battling for the last spot on the Mosconi Cup team. Deuel defeated Jani Siekkinen 11-5 while Eberle fell victim to David Alcaide 11-5. Other matches of interest saw Denis Grabe winning over Earl Strickland 11-8 and Darren Appleton over Tyler Styer 11-5. 
Coming back from the dinner break, play shifted to the winner’s side and the arena was filled with marquee matches. On the TV table, Nikos Ekonomopolous faced Lee Van Corteza. The match changed complexion in a hurry at 5-4 Ekonomopolous when he won a rack, broke the 9-ball and then shot an early 9-ball in the next rack. Suddenly, it was 8-4. Corteza fought back to 9-8, but couldn’t get over the hump as Ekonopolous won the match 11-9. 
The comeback of the day belonged to Vietnam’s Nguyen Phuc Long against Niels Feijen. Feijen looked to be cruising to an easy win at 7-2, when things turned in Nguyen's favor. Nguyen combined a couple of good rolls with a four pack to keep Feijen in his chair as he won nine straight racks for the 11-7 win. 
Play then shifted back to the one loss side to finish out the night. The 8:30 round saw very little as far as surprises with Albin Ouschan, Naoyuki Oi, Donny Mills, Billy Thorpe and Roberto Gomez all advancing. One other match of note saw Aloysius Yapp hand the youngest Ko brother, Ping Han, his second loss in a row and eliminating him from the event. 
The final match of the night featured Skyler Woodward against an unusually subdued Earl Strickland. Having just faced each other in a challenge match earlier this month, both players were familiar with each other’s games. The players battled to 9-9 before Woodward notched the win to eliminate Strickland. Other players being eliminated at night’s end were Tyler Styer, Poland’s Wiktor Zielinski, Ernesto Dominguez and Frankie Hernandez.
You can follow the action all week long, with our online brackets and real time scoring. Select matches will also be streamed online as part of Accu-Stats PPV coverage of the event

West foils a strong, loss-side bid by Wilkie to claim MD State 10-Ball Championships

Rick Scarlato Jr, Shaun Wilkie, Jake Lawson, Chuck Sampson, Michael Yednak, Kevin West, Loye Bolyard

The two competitors who squared off against each other in the finals of the Maryland State 10-Ball Championships on the weekend of September 28-29 are the only two who have ever won the Action Pool Tour’s annual Bob Stocks Memorial Tournament twice. That record was held by Shaun Wilkie, until in 2017 & this past April, Kevin West chalked up his two. West went undefeated in the MD State 10-Ball event, and was challenged by Wilkie, who’d been sent to the loss side in an early round by another Bob Stocks Memorial champion, Brandon Shuff. Wilkie won eight on the loss side to challenge West in the finals. The $1,000-added event drew 64 entrants to Champions Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, MD.
With his finals opponent toiling away on the loss side, West advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Del Sim. Chuck Sampson faced Robert Palucho in the other one. West sent Sim west 7-1 and in the hot seat match, faced Sampson, who’d defeated Palucho 7-5. West and Sampson battled to a 13th deciding game before West dropped the last 10-ball to claim the hot seat.
Over on the loss side, Wilkie and Shuff were working their way toward a potential re-match, which would have occurred in the quarterfinals had it not been for Scott Haas. As Wilkie was busy tallying his 4th loss-side win, downing William Gallagher 7-3, Haas was at work eliminating Shuff 7-5. Wilkie subsequently defeated Haas 7-4, which set him (Wilkie) up to face Del Sim. Palucho drew Michael Yednak, who’d shut out Dylan Spohr and given up only a single rack to co-event director, Rick Scarlato, Jr.
Wilkie advanced to the quarterfinals 7-4 over Sim and was joined by Yednak, who’d defeated Palucho 7-2. Wilkie took the quarterfinals 7-3 over Yednak and then shut Sampson out in the semifinals.
Momentum aside, Wilkie was unable to just roll over West in the finals. West got out in front and won it by three (7-4) to claim the MD State 10-Ball Title. 
Co-event directors Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Champions Billiards, as well as sponsors McDermott Cues, Lights Out Billiards Apparel, AZBilliards, Simonis Cloth, Billiards Sports Network, Chesapeake Bay TAP Leagues and Aramith Balls.    

Van Boening over Strickland for Fifth Turning Stone Title

Shane Van Boening (Erwin Dionisio)

Shane Van Boening is the Turning Stone Classic XXXII Champion, but it was a nail biter until the end. 
While the event has been dominated recently by Van Boening and Jayson Shaw, winning five of the last six titles, this event was all about the resurgent play of BCA Hall of Famer Earl Strickland. Strickland already had a one sided 9-5 win over Van Boening on Saturday, and he kicked off his Sunday with a hill-hill win over Thorsten Hohmann. While Strickland was sending the German to the one loss side, Shaw was sending America’s Brandon Shuff to join Hohmann 9-7. 
On the one loss side, Van Boening eliminated Rafael Dabreo in 7th place, and Billy Thorpe ended Frankie Hernandez’s run in the same place. Van Boening and Thorpe welcomed the two players coming from the winner’s side and then sent them to the stands in a tie for 5th place with Thorpe beating Hohmann and Van Boening over Shuff. 
The hot-seat match between Strickland and Shaw featured the usual dominating play that we are used to seeing in a Jayson Shaw match, with one big exception. This time, it was Shaw in the chair and his opponent doing the dominating. Earl raced to a 5-0 lead before Shaw was able to get to the table with a shot. Strickland’s lead ballooned to 7-0 with Shaw unable to capitalize on any opportunities. Strickland, on the other hand, was running out from everywhere and punishing Shaw for the smallest of mistakes. By the time is was over, Strickland was celebrating a 9-1 win and Shaw was waiting to see who he would face in the Semi-Final. 
While this was going on, Van Boening and Thorpe were battling it out on the one loss side. The final score (9-5 Van Boening) didn’t accurately summarize how close this match really was. There were many safety exchanges, leading to a slow match without the usual fireworks.
The semi-final match was the showdown between Van Boening and Shaw that the fans had expected all weekend, but it wasn’t much of a battle. Van Boening brought his usual intensity to the match, but Shaw seemed to be suffering the after effects of the previous match. His “will to win” just wasn’t there in this match. Final score: 9-4 Van Boening.
The final match couldn’t have been much closer. Van Boening had control early in the match and held an early three rack lead, but Strickland wasn’t done and fought back to take a late two rack lead. Van Boening then came back to tie things at 11-11 in the race to thirteen. Van Boening was the first to the hill and Strickland played a great safety to leave Van Boening locked up, facing the possibility of a hill-hill match if he left Strickland any shot. The vast majority of kicks by players, at a match of this level, are controlled and calculated shots. They are kicking with a purpose in mind. Then there are the kicks like this one. Van Boening lined up the angle on the kick and stroked it hard. Hard enough to strike the intended ball and get the 9-ball rolling the length of the table and into the corner pocket to give him a 13-11 finals win over Strickland. 
The title is Van Boening's fifth Turning Stone Classic title, one less than both Johnny Archer and Jayson Shaw. The win was worth $8,000 for Van Boening, with Strickland settling for a disappointing $5,000 in second place prize money. 

Turning Stone Classic XXXII – – Jayson Shaw vs Brandon Shuff