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McMinn double dips Grey to win stop on Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour

Shane McMinn, Michael Pickering and Joey Gray

Two years ago, in April of 2019, when we last reported on a match in which Shane McMinn and Joey Gray met each other in an event final, we were lamenting the fact that we had no way of knowing just how many times they had done that. Neither do they. Back then, we’d tracked down one event from 2014 in which Gray “went undefeated, downing McMinn in the hot seat and finals,” and “found a few instances in which McMinn had bested Gray in the finals.” Whatever their total count and whoever’s ahead of who in total wins, we know for certain that it’s an often-renewed rivalry that goes back at least 15 years. McMinn began showing up in our database in 1999. Joey Gray, in 2006.

In that last meetup (that we know of) in 2019, Gray came from the loss side and double dipped McMinn in the finals to win a stop on the Midwest 9-Ball Tour. This past weekend, Sept. 18-19, McMinn returned the favor, coming from the loss side to double dip Gray in stop #9 on the Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour. The $1,500-added event drew 60 entrants to Jeffro’s Billiards in Canton, TX. 

McMinn started off by chalking up three wins against Garrett Hogue, Jennifer Hooten and TJ Davis by an aggregate score of 30-7, before running into Joey Gray in one of the winners’ side quarterfinals. Gray, who’d tallied an aggregate score of 27-11 versus Shawn Findley, Tony Top and Corey Flud, sent McMinn to the loss side 9-5 and drew Crispian Ng in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Michael Pickering, in the meantime, who’d gotten by Jamie Blevins, Jonathan Davis, Robert Webb and Clint Freeeman (28-10) picked up the Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour’s top player in the Tour standings, Daniel Herring, in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Gray advanced to the hot seat match with a 9-4 win over Ng, as Pickering got by Herring 7-3. Gray claimed the hot seat 9-5 over Pickering and waited on the return of a very familiar face.

On the loss side, it was Herring who drew Shane McMinn, in the middle of his five-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him all the way to the finals. Following his defeat at the hands of Gray, McMinn met up with and eliminated Chip Compton 10-4, a player who could readily be added to the McMinn/Gray rivalry, forming a Midwest rivalry triumvirate that’ve been battling each other all over the country for years. McMinn moved on to defeat Harold “Woody” Paine 10-4 and face Herring. Crispian Ng picked up Clint Freeman, who’d been sent over in a winners’ side quarterfinal by Pickering and defeated TJ Davis 9-5 and Alberto Nieto Garcia 9-6.

Freeman downed Ng 9-6 and in the quarterfinals, faced McMinn, who’d eliminated Herring 10-6. McMinn defeated Freeman 10-7 and then, in the semifinals, Pickering 10-5.

McMinn took the opening set of the true double elimination final 10-4. He went one better in the second set, claiming the event title 10-3.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Jeffro’s Billiards, as well as title sponsor Cuetec, Fort Worth Billiards Store, JB Cases, Internet Marketing Solutions, Granite Guyz and Dallas 8-Ball. The next stop on the Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for October 23-24, will be hosted by Snookered in Frisco, TX. 

Sullivan, Ryan & Freeman go undefeated at 5th Annual Royce Bunnell Memorial Tournament

Roman Bayda, Clint Freeman andT.J. Davis

It was, to say the least, a long, busy weekend. Beginning on Thursday, Dec. 10 and culminating on Sunday, Dec. 13, the 5th Annual Royce Bunnell Memorial Tournament played host to four separate events. The $2,000-added (total) event drew 16 players to a One Pocket tournament on Thursday, a 32-player 8-ball event and a 13-entrant Ring Game on Friday. By far the largest of the four events, a 58-player 9-ball event, began on Saturday and concluded on Sunday, Dec. 13.

The event was directed by David “Doc” Reyes, who, for nine years, worked for Royce Bunnell during his tenure as the CEO of OB Cues. Reyes has run this event since its inception in December, 2015, less than a month after Bunnell had died of a heart attack at the age of 49. Bunnell, in addition to his innovations and general advocacy of the pool industry was a friend to many and is missed by as many, to whom he was a mentor and friend. 

Jeff Sullivan went undefeated through four opponents to win the single-elimination One Pocket tournament on Thursday. Jim Ryan won six matches against five opponents to go undefeated in the 8-Ball event, while Clint Freeman won seven matches against seven opponents to claim the 9-Ball title. Gerardo Perez won Friday night’s Ring game.

In races to 3, Jeff Sullivan and Roman Bayda worked their way through two opponents to arrive at the two semifinal matches. Sullivan had defeated Tom Barnett and Walt Anderson to face Corey Flud in one semifinal. Bayda had downed Robert Kempf and Daniel Herring and faced Gerardo Perez in the other semifinal. Sullivan advanced to the finals 3-1 over Flud, as Bayda and Perez battled to a deciding 5th game, won by Bayda. Sullivan put a bit of an exclamation point on his winning of the One Pocket title by shutting Bayda out in the final.

In the double-elimination 8-ball event, which also featured races to 3 and commenced on Friday, Jim Ryan got by Tony Solis, Clinton Mayo and Moe Harbaji to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against TJ Davis. Daniel Herring had defeated Doug Winnet, Jason Judd, and Jamel Wordlaw to square off against Jason McKenzie in the other winners’ side semifinal. Ryan and Herring advanced to the hot seat match; Herring, 3-1 over McKenzie and Ryan, double hill over Davis. Ryan won a second straight double hill match, downing Herring to claim the hot seat. 

Davis would return from a three-match, loss-side trip to face Ryan a second time in the finals. It proved to be Ryan’s third straight double hill victory and it earned him the 8-ball title.

In the 58-player, 9-Ball event, Roman Bayda made a bid for his appearance in a second final. He failed, however, to make it back from the semifinals and had to settle for 3rd place in 9-ball. The runner-up in the 8-ball tourney, TJ Davis, did make a second appearance in a final. He had to win nine loss-side matches to get to the final before being relegated to his second runner-up finish by Clint Freeman.

Freeman got by Mohammed Alrawi, Mark Lawson, Tony Top, and Shan Iyer to draw Clint Palaci in his winners’ side semifinal. Bayda, in the meantime, who’d started his campaign off with a double hill win over Dario Gomez, went on to defeat Alberto Nieto, Travis Landsdowne, and Doug Winnet to draw Lance Schofield in his winners’ side semifinal. 

Bayda sent Schofield to the loss side 7-4. He was joined in the hot seat match by Freeman, who’d defeated Palaci 7-5. Freeman claimed the hot seat 7-3 over Bayda and waited for TJ Davis to complete his nine-match, loss-side streak. 

That loss side streak was going well (six down, three to go) when Davis, following 7-4 wins over Crispian Ng and Doug Winnet, ran into Palaci. Schofield drew Shan Iyer, who’d recently survived a double hill fight over Steve Lenz and then eliminated the One Pocket winner, Jeff Sullivan, 7-4. Iyer survived a second double hill fight, over Schofield, and advanced to the quarterfinals. Davis joined him after downing Palaci 7-2.

Davis used back-to-back 7-3 wins over Iyer in the quarterfinals and Bayda in the semifinals for his second shot at a title. Freeman denied him with a 7-4 win in the finals that gave him the 9-ball title.

“Doc” Reyes thanked the ownership and staff at the Billiards Den for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Fort Worth Billiards Superstore, Doc’s Billiards Office, JB Cases, Dallas 8-Ball, Outsville Accu-Rack, OB Cues, John Eagle Honda, and Action 903 for the live stream.

Editors Note: Consider this report to be preliminary, featuring specific highlights of the four events held over the past weekend. We’re continuing to talk to participants and organizers of this 5th Annual event, honoring the late Royce Bunnell and all of the influence and friendship he brought to bear on the pool industry during his tenure with OB Cues. A more comprehensive report, to include commentary from some of the individuals whose lives he touched, will be found in the first 2021 edition of THE BILLIARDS BUZZ, to be published the first week in January.    

Freeman double dips Palaci to win DFW 9-Ball Tour’s season opener

(l to r): Clint Palaci, Clint Freeman & Tony Top

Though he played more games and eventually, after winning five on the loss side of the double elimination bracket, met and defeated hot seat occupant, Clint Palaci, to claim the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) 9-Ball Tour’s season opener on the weekend of January 18-19, Clint Freeman did not end up with the highest game-winning percentage of the 106 entrants, who signed on to the $1,500-added tournament, hosted by Rusty’s Billiards in Arlington, TX. That interior-event ‘title’ went to Walter Huenerfuerst, who, though he finished in the tie for 13th place, won 57 of the 80 games he played over the weekend (71%).
 
Event winner Freeman, at 65% (85-46), wasn’t even in second place for the game-winning percentage ‘title,’ though he did end up in third place. Second place went to a competitor who was the odds-on favorite to win the tournament; seven-time participant and 2019 Vice Captain of the USA Mosconi Cup team, and winner of the 1998 US Open One Pocket and 2003 US Open 9-Ball titles, Jeremy Jones. Jones, though he finished in the tie for 9th place, won 64 of the 96 games he played (67%).
 
That strange little ‘factoid’ emanates from a disparity of games-played and racks-given-up that doesn’t always figure into the bottom line of winning or losing a given tournament. If you play 10 games of pool in a tournament, all races to 8, and win them all, you win the tournament. But if each of your eight games goes double hill (8-7), you’re going to finish the tournament with a 53% game-winning percentage. Huenerfuerst lost his opening match, faced seven opponents on the loss side, and gave up an average of just under three racks per match to his opponents to win the game-winning percentage battle. Jones, who moved to the loss side after the fourth round, faced a total of only six opponents and gave up just over five racks per match. Event winner Freeman played 11 matches, to include the double elimination final and gave up just over four games per match.
 
Freeman’s path to the winners’ circle went through Jeff Williams (8-5), Paul Villa (8-2), and Shane Hvamsted 8-3, before running into Donnie Gregory for the first time. Gregory sent him to the loss side 7-5. Gregory then advanced to a winners’ side semifinal matchup against Clint Palaci. Meanwhile, Tony Top, who’d recently battled to double hill versus Jeremy Jones and sent him to the loss side, advanced to the other winners’ side semifinal against Harold “Woody” Paine.
 
Top got into the hot seat match with an 8-6 victory over Paine. He was joined by Palaci, who’d defeated Gregory 7-2. Palaci gave up only a single rack to Top and grabbed the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Freeman began his loss-side campaign with his hands full, so to speak, by drawing Jeremy Jones, who’d just won his first loss-side match 10-6 over Daniel Herring. Freeman put an end to an extraordinarily brief loss-side run by Jones with an 8-5 win. Freeman moved on to a double hill battle that he eventually won over JP Kinman, that set him (Freeman) up to face “Woody” Paine. Gregory picked up Jud Hunter, who’d recently eliminated Billy Guy and John Doughty, both 7-5.
 
Freeman advanced to the quarterfinals with an 8-4 win over Paine, earning himself a rematch against Gregory, who’d defeated Hunter 7-5. Freeman went at the quarterfinal rematch with a vengeance, and allowed Gregory only a single rack in his 8-1 victory. Freeman completed his loss-side run with an 8-2 victory over Top in the semifinals.
 
Hot seat occupant, Clint Palaci began the double elimination finals against Clint Freeeman with one ‘bead on the wire’ in a race to 8. The two Clints battled to double hill in the opening set, before Clint finished it, forcing a second set. Freeman took the second set 8-4 to claim the DFW 9-Ball Tour’s season opener and for about a month, sit at the top of the DFW’s standings.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Rusty’s Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Anchor Predator Cues, Business Sponsor Ft. Worth Billiards Superstore and Associate Business Sponsors Aramith Balls, Outsville Racks, Rasson Billiards and JB Cases. The next stop on the DFW 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for Feb. 22-23, will be hosted by Billiard Den in Richardson, TX.

Sky Three-Peats Sidepocket Open

Skyler Woodward and Robb Saez

118 players decided to spend their Fourth of July weekend in Shreveport, LA for the Sidepocket Nine Ball Open.
 
Friday night action kicked off with a sixteen man ring 9 ball – $100/man. The players drew into groups of four on four tables. The top two from there went to two tables until two players were eliminated. The final four duked it out with Warren Kiamco taking top honors and $800. Clint Freeman took second and $400, Alex Olinger was third with $250 and Steve Raynes took fourth and $150. Congratulations to all!
 
Saturday began with a noon players auction. Young guns Sky Woodward and Alex Olinger took the two blind bids. Other top players going for big bucks included CJ Wiley, Robb Saez and Warren Kiamco. The draw was completed and play began.
 
The alternate break – race to seven format produced a lot of very close matches but on Sunday afternoon, the cream rose to the top leaving Sky Woodward and Robb Saez playing for the hot seat. Sky prevailed and claimed a berth in the finals while Robb took a seat on the rail waiting for the results of the Chase RudderJerry Calderon match.
 
Calderon was victorious in a 7-6 nailbiter leaving Chase with a very respectable fourth place finish and $700. Calderon and Saez faced off for the other seat in the finals and this one was a close one too! Robb edged Calderon out – again 7-6. Calderon had to settle for $950 and a third place finish.
 
Since this was a true double elimination event, Robb would have to defeat the always tough Sky twice to claim the title. Getting a sniff of the cheese, Sky was having none of it as he cruised to a 7-3 victory and his three-peat!!! Not to mention the $2600 first prize money!!! Congratulations, Sky!!!
 
Robb did his sponsor Arena Billiards proud with his fantastic runner-up finish and receiving $1300 for his efforts. Great job, buddy!!!
 
The Sidepocket Nine Ball Open wouldn’t have been possible without the sponsorship of Mike Roberts of It’s George Tip Tool 3, OB Digicue, Ballistic Billiards and Steve Wells of Action24/7. Thank you!!! Tournament Director Jeff Sullivan (“Sully”) and his able assistant, Ileana Ford, made sure the event ran smoothly. Good job!!! And, as always, thanks to Sidepocket’s owner, Roger Lites, and his fantastic staff for taking such good care of all the players and fans!!!
 
PoolActionTV would also like to thank our sponsors: Diamond Billiard Tables, Lomax Custom Cues, Kamui, John Barton of JB Cases, GoPlayPool.com, Durbin Custom Cues, Aramith, Hanshew Custom Cues, Simonis and Club Billiards of Wichita, KS.
 
Our next stop is Houston, TX for the Topwater Memorial One Pocket Championship to be held at Bogie’s Billiards – July 14th-16th. Hope to see you there!!!

Porcell holds off challenge from Weast to win 1st Annual Secrets 9-Ball Open in Shreveport

When you send an opponent to the loss side in a tournament's opening round, you have every right to expect that you've seen the last of that player. The road back is just so long and fraught not only with the vagaries of the games and tables, but one's own perception that with one foot  in the elimination bucket already, one slip-up will finish you. Bubba Porcell went undefeated through a field of 43, on-hand for the $1,500-added 1st Annual Secrets 9-Ball Open, held on the weekend of August 1-2 at Secrets Bar & Billiards in Shreveport, LA. Not, however before having a bit of a scare tossed at him by Brad Weast, whom he'd sent to the loss side in the opening  round. Weast came all the way back through 10 loss-side opponents, and won the opening set of a true double elimination final, before Porcell settled down and defeated him a second time to claim the event title.
 
With Weast (as far as Porcell was concerned) safely out of his way, Porcell advanced to a winners' side semifinal against David Ringler. Clint Freeman and Chris "Fish Hook" Brown squared off in the other. Freeman, apparently not fooled by the 'fish hook,' survived a double hill battle against Brown, while Porcell sent Ringler to the loss side 7-4. Porcell claimed the hot seat by the same score over Freeman, and watched, as Weast got closer and closer.
 
On the loss side, with five down and five to go, Weast defeated Don Williams 7-4 and Zeke Morrison 7-2, to draw Brown. Ringler picked up Kent Bervhelot, who'd eliminated Jason Rusk and Cliff Thomason 7-5. Brown and Ringler picked up their second straight loss, both 7-5, to Weast and Bevhelot.
 
Weast took the quarterfinal match over Bevhelot 7-4 and survived a semifinal, double hill fight versus Freeman in the semifinals. With clear title to the 'momentum' tag, Weast took the double elimination opening set 7-5. Porcell, however, shrugged it off, returned the 7-5 favor and claimed the 1st Annual Secrets 9-Ball Open title.

Archer goes undefeated to win Side Pocket 9-Ball Open Championship in Shreveport

Johnny Archer and Jonathan Pinegar

Johnny Archer put a stop to a nine-match, loss-side winning streak by Jonathan Pinegar to go undefeated and win the Side Pocket 9-Ball Open Championship on the weekend of October 25-26. The $2,000-added event, held three times a year in the final weeks of October, February, and June, drew 80 entrants to Side Pocket Billiards in Shreveport, LA. A 16-entrant Ring Game on Friday night was won by Gary Abood, with Charlie Bryant and Joe Barnes finishing second and third, respectively.
 
Archer and Zack Sanderson faced off in the hot seat match of the main event, after both had chalked up 7-5 wins over C.J. Wiley and Charlie Bryant, respectively. Sanderson put up a fight in the struggle for the hot seat, and forced a deciding game, which was won by Archer.
 
Over on the loss side, 'Hennessee from Tennessee' Pinegar was hard at work on his long trek back to the finals. He'd been awarded a bye in the opening round of play, and then defeated Jerry Moore, before Shawn Putnam sent him to the losers' bracket 7-5. On the loss side, he eliminated Derek Cantu, Clint Freeman, Yang Yim and Chris Brown to advance into the money rounds (9-12). Victories over Wesley Barnes (7-5) and Tony Barrington (7-4) set him up to face Bryant, coming over from the winners' side semifinals. Wiley drew Joe Barnes, who'd gotten by Gary Abood 7-3 and spoiled Pinegar's hopes for a re-match, with a 7-5 win over Putnam.
 
It was Wiley and Pinegar who advanced to the quarterfinals; Wiley 7-4 over Barnes, and Pinegar 7-5 over Bryant. Pinegar took the quarterfinal match 7-4 over Wiley, and got a shot at Archer with a 7-5 victory over Sanderson in the semifinals.  Archer, though, known to be never more dangerous than he is with a finish line in sight, took the opening set of a potential true double elimination final, giving up only three racks and claiming the event title.

Engel wins seven on the loss side, double dips Abood to take Arena Billiards 9-Ball Open

Jesse Engel (Photo courtesy of WPBL)

Jesse Engel fell to Larry Nevel in the early going of the Arena Billiards 9-Ball Open, but won seven on the loss side to eventually meet and defeat Gary Abood in the event finals. The $1,800-added event drew 79 entrants (only 77 actually played) to Arena Billiards in West Monroe, LA.

 
Once Engel had been sent west, Nevel was eventually sent to follow him by Abood, who advanced among the winners' side final four for a matchup against James Council. Carl McLendon squared off against Eric Brown in the other winners' side semifinal. Abood gave up only a single rack against Council and in the battle for the hot seat, met McClendon, who'd defeated Brown 7-3. Abood got into the hot seat with a double hill win over McClendon.
 
Engel, in the meantime, was racking them up on the loss side. With two down and five to go, he defeated Tom Orange, and was denied a re-match against Nevel, when Josh Roberts took him out in the same round. Engel went on to defeat Roberts 7-5, which set him up to face Council. Brown drew Clint Freeman, who'd gotten by Mike Brown and Kenny Loftis
 
Engel defeated Council 7-3 and was met in the quarterfinals by Brown, who'd eliminated Freeman 7-4. Engel moved on and chalked up four straight 7-4 wins, beginning with his defeat of Brown in those quarterfinals.
 
He defeated McClendon in the semifinals, and got out in front of Abood in the opening set of the finals to take it 7-4, as well. Abood jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set, but Engel caught up to him and eventually sealed the deal with a final 7-4 win.