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Tierney goes undefeated to capture his first regional tour title on Garden State Pool Tour

Dinko Busanich, Julian Tierney and Mike Johnson

It’s something of a recent phenomenon, this mixing of possible games in a tournament. Not entirely new, but event organizers have been getting creative with the ways that they mix the games; from changes that dictate ‘x’ amount of 8-ball or 9-ball (or other) games in a single match to the format employed by the Garden State Pool Tour at its most recent event this past weekend (Oct. 15). At the $200-added Halloween Classic that drew 18 entrants to Breaker Billiards in Clifton, NJ, 8-ball was the designated game on the winners’ side of the bracket and 9-ball was the game on the loss side. Competitors not only had to absorb a first loss and continue play knowing that there was no longer any room for error, they had to move from what is generally considered to be an easier game (if there is such a thing) to a harder one. 

Julian Tierney didn’t have to worry about that. He won all of his matches, going undefeated  playing 8-ball. When it came time for the true double elimination finals against Mike Johnson, the game played in the opening set was 8-ball. Had it gone to a second set, they would have finished up playing 9-ball. Tierney took the opening set to claim his first (recorded) regional tour title.

Tierney followed an opening round bye with two straight shutouts, over Michelle Brotons and Jason Blanchard, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Dinko Busanich. Johnson, also with a bye, locked into a 6-2 pattern that sent Tom Mac and Ron Lichtenberger to the loss side and set him up to face Sumit Bansal in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Tierney defeated Busanich 4-2, as Johnson kept his pattern going with a 6-2 victory over Bansal. Tierney broke the pattern, downing Johnson 6-3 to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Busanich drew Lysander Diaz, who, after losing an opening round match to Aurelio Romero, went on a four-match winning streak that had recently eliminated Lichtenberger and Frank Rodriguez, both double hill (5-6; Lichtenberger and Rodriguez racing to 7). Bansal drew Romero, who’d defeated Mikeal Kim 7-4 and Rob Rodriguez, double hill to reach him.

Romero won his fourth loss side match, downing Bansal 7-4, as Busanich eliminated Diaz, double hill. Busanich and Romero battled to double hill in the quarterfinals that followed before Busanich closed it out.

Busanich came into the semifinals with a Fargo-calculated 68.3% chance of winning the match against Mike Johnson; Busanich racing to 8, Johnson to 5. Johnson battled him to double hill and won it 5-4 for a second shot at Tierney, waiting for him in the hot seat.

Though Johnson’s Fargo-rated chances of winning the opening set of the true double elimination final against Tierney were even lower than his chances against Busanich (7.5% vs. 31.7%), Johnson battled Tierney to double hill in a straight-up race to 7. Tierney had the last word though and claimed title to the Garden State Pool Tour’s 2022 Halloween Classic.

Tour director Dave Fitzpatrick thanked the ownership and staff at Breaker Billiards, as well as sponsors Billiards Engineering, IntheBX, Kamui, Off the Rail, Jflowers Cues and Cases, John Bender Custom Cues and Pool-a-holic.

The next stop on the Garden State Pool Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 12-13 at Rockaway Billiards in NJ, will be the Annual Amateur New Jersey State Championships. The tour’s final event – The Grand Amateur Invitational Championship – will be held in December.

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Toomey and Mazzeo split top prizes on Tri-State Tour’s 2019/2020 season opener

(l to r): Bob Toomey & Joe Mazzeo

Negotiations for opting out of a tournament’s final match are often, though not always, conducted, if not secretly, at least away from the person who is sometimes holding the cash for its eventual distribution. And sometimes, hearing or reading about it afterwards, can make you wonder whose idea it was. A person who was defeated in the hot seat match, as a random example, is generally motivated to take a second shot against the opponent who sent him/her to the semifinals. Reasons for the cash split at the end of a long day can range from the practical (a long drive home, a work shift that begins late at night, or even early the next morning) to the personal (the opponents drove to the tournament together and agreed upon arrival that if faced with a final match, they’d split).
On Sunday, July 14, the Tri-State Tour opened its 2019/2020 season with a $1,000-added 8-Ball event that drew 29 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ, where the 2018/2019 season had ended almost exactly a month ago. At the end of the tournament, Bob Toomey, the tour’s 2018/2019 Sportsman of the Year, was sitting in the hot seat, waiting to see whether the opponent he’d defeated in the hot seat match, Jason Blanchard, was going to make it back from the semifinals. He didn’t. Instead, Joe Mazzeo, who’d lost in the event’s second round and then embarked on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak, downed Blanchard and was presented with the opportunity to face Toomey in the final. Mazzeo, according to tour representatives, “decided to take second and end the day,” leaving the undefeated hot seat occupant (Toomey) as the event’s official winner.
Toomey’s path to the hot seat featured five matches, three of which went double hill. He downed Amanda Andries 5-2 and ran into his first double hill match against Rick Rodriguez. He then defeated Allison LaFleur 5-3 to draw Artur Trzeciak in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Blanchard, in the meantime, got by Chris Schmidt, Sam Hoffman, and Raphael Castillo, who’d sent Mazzeo to the loss side in the second round, to pick up Joe Ganguzza in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Toomey chalked up his second double hill win of the day, over Trzeciak, as Blanchard defeated Ganguzza 6-2 to join him in the hot seat match. In what would prove to be the event’s ‘title match,’ battling for the hot seat, Toomey won his third double hill battle and sent Blanchard to the semifinals.
On the loss side, Mazzeo was working on his seven-match, loss-side winning streak. He’d gotten by Chris Schmidt 6-3, John Durr, double hill, Nick Serino 6-2 and Teddy Lapadula 6-4 to draw Ganguzza. Trzeciak picked up Manny Gomez, who’d recently shut out Allison LaFleur and defeated Mike Strassberg 5-2.
Mazzeo advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3 win over Ganguzza. He was joined by Trzeciak, who’d eliminated Gomez 5-3. Mazzeo took the quarterfinal match over Trzeciak 6-3 and completed his loss-side run (and the tournament) with a 6-2 victory over Blanchard in the semifinals. He opted out of a final match, leaving Toomey as official winner of the Tri-State Tour’s season opener. 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, DIGICUE OB, John Bender Custom Cues, Billiards Digest, Human Kinetics, Blue Book Publishing, Joe Romer Trophies and Phil Cappelle Publications. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, June 21, will be a $1,000-added 9-ball event, hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.