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Rice breaks through to win first Tri-State

Kyle Bubet, room owner Kevin Buckley, Thomas Rice and twin sister Kristin Rice

He's been going at it steadily since January. Through five stops on the Tri-State Tour and one on the Predator Tour, 14-year-old Thomas Rice has been finishing closer and closer to the top. He placed 9th on the Predator Tour in April, 7th on the Tri-State two weeks later, 5th twice (January and last weekend), 3rd once (March), 2nd once (May 4), and on Saturday, May 18, he won seven games on the loss side to meet and defeat Kyle Bubet in the finals of a Tri-State stop to capture his first event title. The $1,500-added, A-D handicapped event drew 43 entrants to Gotham Billiards in Brooklyn, NY.

Rice won his opening match on this stop, shutting out Kim Meyer-Gabia, and then ran into Bubet, who sent him west 6-4. As Rice embarked on his seven-match, loss-side winning streak, Bubet advanced among the winners' side final four to face Joshua Morancie. Gary O'Callaghan and Bredan Ince squared off in the other winners' side semifinal. Bubet downed Morancie 6-2, and in the hot seat match, faced O'Callaghan, who'd defeated Ince 7-4. Bubet got into the hot seat with an 8-3 victory over O'Callaghan and waited on the fateful return of Rice.
Following victories over Eddie Perez and Nicholas Chan, Rice shut out Luis Jimenez, and defeated Brendon Hollock 6-3 to pick up Morancie. Ince drew Alex Osipov, who'd gotten by Jimmy Acosta 7-1, and Koka Davladze 7-3. Rice and Osipov handed Morancie and Ince their second straight loss – Rice 6-3, Osipov double hill – and met in the quarterfinals.
Rice then ended Osipov's day with a 6-4 win and earned a forfeit victory over O'Callaghan in the semifinals. Rice came out gunning in the finals. He took the opening three racks, and after allowing Bubet a single win, chalked up four more to reach the hill. Bubet, took the next two, but Rice closed it out 8-3 to take top honors.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff of Gotham City Billiards, as well as sponsors Sterling-Gaming, Ozone Billiards, Poison Cues, Ron Tarr Cues, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, and Human Kinetics. The next Tri-State stop will be a $1,000-added, A-D event, scheduled for May 25-26 at Amsterdam Billiards in New York City.