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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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Busanich chalks up first win in eight years, going undefeated on Garden State Pool Tour

Alex Vangelov, Dinko Busanich and Jay Pass

The first time that Dinko Busanich won a (recorded) event in the New York City Tri-State area was eight years ago, when he and Frank Sieczka split the top two prizes at a stop on the Tri-State Tour back in December of 2014. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat at the time, Busanich became the official event winner. The next and last time Busanich won a recorded event was this past weekend, Saturday, July 10, when he went undefeated to win a stop on the Garden State Pool Tour. The $250-added event drew 20 entrants to Side Pocket Billiards in Howell, NJ.

Busanich faced Alex Vangelov twice in this one; hot seat and finals. Busanich was awarded a bye, before downing Rob Wetherhold, double hill and drawing Mike Johnson in a winners’ side semifinal. Vangelov, in the meantime, playing one more match to get to the same place, defeated Luigi Ramos 6-4 and Giancarlo Delgado 6-3 to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against Kevin Rushing.

Busanich sent Johnson to the loss side 7-3, as Vangelo was busy doing likewise to Rushing 6-1. Busanich claimed the hot seat 9-5 and waited for Vangelov to get back from the semifinals.

On the loss side, Jay Pass, who’d lost her opening round match, made it all the way to the semifinals to challenge Vangelov. She’d defeated Stephen Persaud 6-4 in the quarterfinals to get to him. Vangelov stopped Pass’s run 6-3 in those semifinals for a second chance shot at Busanich.

In the extended-race-to-11 finals, Busanich could have ended it by winning 9 racks first and at 7-7, that was still possible. Vangelov, though, took the next two racks, which extended the race to 11. Dinko came back to win two, knotting the score at 9-9. Vangelov won rack #19 to reach the hill first, but when he hung the 9-ball in the next game, Busanich took advantage and forced the 21st game of the final. Things went back and forth in that final rack, but in the end, Busanich dropped the event’s last 9-ball to claim his (first ‘no final match’) event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Side Pocket Billiards for their hospitality, as well as Billiards Engineering, Kamui, J-Flowers Custom Cues & Cases, AZBilliards and John Bender Custom Cues. The next stop on the Garden State Pool Tour, scheduled for this weekend (Sunday, July 17), will be a C/D Class 9-Ball event, hosted by Black Diamond Billiards in Union, New Jersey. And it will be a C-D Class 9-Ball event.

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Mike Johnson returns to the tables for an undefeated run on the Garden State Tour

Mike Johnson, Gary Barnish and Kervin Santamaria

Prior to last weekend (Sat., Feb. 26), at appearances in six different events since 2007, Mike Johnson had recorded finish-payouts (with us) ranging from 17th place (Starcase Billiards Fall Classic; 2015) to 9th (NJ State 8-Ball Championships; 2018), to a few 5th place finishes on the Blaze Tour (’07), and in 2013, The Great Southern Billiard and Mezz Pro Am Tours. We understand from representatives of New Jersey’s Garden State Tour, that while unreported to us, he has climbed the single-event ladder on that tour as high as runner-up. Looking at the entries on his profile page here at AZ, you can’t help but notice that after his 5th place finish on the Blaze Tour in ‘07, he didn’t show up on our payout lists again until 2013, and then, seemed to embark on repetitive absences that have increased in an apparent pattern, over time; from 2013 to 2015 to 2018 to now (’22).

He went undefeated on the Garden State Tour last weekend to claim his first reported regional tour title. It also turned the barely-begun 2022 into his best earnings year, at which, already, he’s earned more money at the tables than in all of his previously-recorded years combined. The $200-added event drew 23 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ. 

It wasn’t exactly a “merrily we roll along” trip to the winners’ circle for Johnson. In the upper bracket, after a bye, he was challenged in two straight double hill battles right at the start, versus Paul Madonia, Sr. and Kevin Scalzitti. He dodged both of those bullets to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Gary Barnish. In the meantime, Kervin Santamaria had his own double-hill problems at the start, but recovered quickly; winning the double-hill fight against Ginny Lewis and then, bouncing back to shut out Luigi Daminan. He got by Don Henriquez 6-4 to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against Steve Persaud.

Johnson downed Barnish 7-4, though as it turned out, he’d be back. Santamaria locked up in a second double hill fight, eventually prevailing 6-5 over Persaud to join Johnson in the hot seat match. 

Surprise, surprise. . . a double-hill hot seat battle. Won by Johnson, who savored the moment, parked in the hot seat and waiting for the return of Barnish.

On the loss side, Barnish got by Rob Wetherford 7-3 and then handed Persaud a double hill loss in the quarterfinals. In what at this point must have seemed like an endless series of double hill contests, Barnish and Santamaria engaged in what would prove to be the last of them, in the semifinals. Barnish won it 8-7 to earn his second shot at Johnson.

In the words of tour representatives, the final match was “all Johnson,” who allowed Barnish one less rack in the finals (3) than he had in their winners’ side semifinal (4). Johnson earned the event title, his first (that we know about), though presumably not his last.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards for their hospitality. The next stop on the Garden State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, March 20, will be hosted by 9-Ball Breaker Billiards in Clifton, NJ.

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2013 Junior National Champions Crowned: Hampton, Miller, Rivas, and Larson

August 8, 2013 (Englewood, CO): The Billiard Education Foundation (BEF) concluded its 25th Annual Junior National 9-Ball Championships July 25-28, 2013. 131 billiard student-athletes represented 29 states at the Convention Center of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada for this special anniversary event. After the four day junior billiard extravaganza, four champions were crowned from each division and awarded trophies, gift bags full of sponsored prizes, custom engraved Delta-13 Select racks, academic scholarships, and entry into the 2013 WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championships.
 
18 & Under Boys Division
 
Of the 38 player field, taking top honors in the 18 & Under Boys Division is the reigning 2012 – 14 & Under Boys champion, Zachary Hampton. In his first year competing in the 18 & under division, Hampton lost his second match to last year’s top finisher, Chad Behnke, returning later to eliminate Behnke, along with two other familiar 18-year-olds, Brendan Crockett and Tyler Styer.
 
18 & Under Girls Division
 
In the 18 & Under Girls Division, 17-year-old Briana Miller set BEF history by going undefeated to claim her seventh consecutive win as Junior National Champion of her division. Since she was 11 years old, Miller has been dominating the girls divisions, medaled at the World event, and has won more in academic scholarships than any other participant, totaling over $6,000. Taylor Reynolds put up a strong fight in the finals but would have to wait until next year to claim the thrown. Newcomer Sierra Reams impressed the stands, proving she can have both academic and billiard accomplishments.
 
14 & Under Boys Division
 
This year’s 14 & Under Boys Division saw the largest field of 51 players qualifying from all over the country. 14-year-old Sergio Rivas went undefeated to claim the title proving he’s ready to play against the 18-year-olds next year. Rivas took third last year and defeated Texas State Junior Champion, Joey Bourgeois, in the finals with a convincing score of 9-2. Michael Evans and Nathan Diederich also had impressive finishes.
 
14 & Under Girls Division
 
The first round of the 14 & Under Girls Division saw a rematch from last year’s finals match. Karsyn Terry delivered reigning champion April Larson her first loss but the 4.0 student did not give up. Larson, known to her hometown as “The Shark”, fought her way back, overcoming two hill-hill matches to defend her title and represent her country again at the upcoming Junior World Championships. Larson defeated Terry and Emily Herpel, before facing Alex Booth in the finals; giving up only two games over the three matches.
 
Online brackets were provided courtesy of Bad Boys Billiard Productions and available at CTSOnDemand.com. HD quality streaming of the finals matches was made possible courtesy of TheActionReport.com.
 
Staff
 
Great appreciation go to the event staff and volunteers who have made this a first class event for years, and many more to come: tournament director Earl Munson for his 8th year of support, tournament assistants & mini-tournament coordinators Mel & Tammy Jo Leonard, National Head Referee Rick Doner for his 10th year of support.
 
HUGE THANKS goes to those who also volunteered their time to support the event and our fundraising efforts: Kathy Coffee, Marc & Kimberly Griffiths, Travis & Tarasa Escoubas, Taren Stewart, Josh Bustos, Cody Escoubas, Katie Bustos-Barnhill, Winfield Hong, John Leyman, Bill Stock, Buddy Eick, Dave Merrill, Darryl Farley, David High, Mike Johnson, Gibbi Tkatch, Dwayne Payne, James Hester, Janet Okamoto, Phil Eickhorn, Doug Garn. Scott Manuel, Larry Noel, and Judie Peters.
 
Special Thanks also go to the amazing staff at Ric & Bonnie Jones, Rich Parkeson and all of the staff at Bad Boys Billiard Productions, TheActionReport.com crew (Justin Collett, Andy Chen, and Tim Wampler), Ken Shuman, David & Linda Vandenberghe, Mark & Sunny Griffin, Mark Estes, Aric Pfeifer, the CSI staff, and Steve Schoenfelder of Pechauer Sales & Repair. We cannot thank you enough for all your support and many of your generous donations.
 
We’d also like to thank our guest speakers Jennifer Barretta and “The Dragon” Tim Chin for their inspirational presentations during the annual event banquet which hosted over 300 attendees (including players, family members, sponsors and supporters). Both players also participated in the popular annual adult-youth scotch doubles tournament. Barretta relentlessly helped to raise funds throughout the week through her movie sales, challenge matches, and exhibitions.
 
Sponsors
 
Please be sure to support all our amazing sponsors/underwriters and product donors who helped make the event possible: Str8-Shots.com (this year’s Academic All-American Award sponsor, as well as generous supporter), Simonis, Aramith, Dr. Dave Alciatore, Tom & Janie Riccobene, Pechauer Custom Cues, CueSports International, Sterling Gaming, Delta-13, PoolDawg.com, Walgreens, The Drill Instructor, Tiger Products, Kamui, Texas Bumps, Red Robin, and RT9 Designs.
 
The following businesses also contributed to our fundraising efforts: McDermott Cues, Play the Game Clothing, PoolAHolic, OB Cues, Focused Apparel, Blackburn Cue Repair, Meuller, Las Vegas Photo & Video, Predator Cues, Omega Billiards, Universal Cues, Bodie Mechanics, PoolandBilliardUSA.com, Castillo Leather Goods, and Frank’s Center.
 
Thanks also to the Mark Wilson, Lauren Nystrom, and the Lindenwood University staff who were present, actively recruiting budding young student-athletes for a chance to further their education while pursuing their billiard dreams. As always, we recognize our loyal media sponsors: AzBilliards.com, Billiards Digest, InsidePool, Pool&Billiard, Cue Times Billiard News, and On The Break News.
 
Any young players interested in participating in next year’s BEF Junior National 9-Ball Championship or State Championships should visit the BEF website at BilliardEducation.org or call the office at (303) 926-1039.
 
Two more boys will be joining the top finishers at the upcoming junior world event. To be announced at a later date.

 

Heyward stops loss-side charge by Dix to win 8-Ball GSBT stop

Shannon Daulton, Jason Heyward, Greg Dix, & Brent Hudgins (owner of Shore Thing Billiards)

Working under a new handicap system that has players racing to their ranking number – in 8-ball, 3-9; in 9-ball, 3-11 – the Great Southern Billiard Tour stopped off at Shore Thing Billiards in Myrtle Beach on Saturday, August 3 for an 8-ball tournament. Greg Dix, who won the last Shore Thing Billiards 8-ball tournament, back in May, almost made it two, winning seven on the loss side to challenge hot seat occupant, Jason Heyward. Heyward, though, came back from a defeat in the opening set of the true double elimination final to win the second set and claim the event title. The $700-added Amateur 8-ball event drew 25 entrants.
 
As Dix went to work on the loss side (following a 6-2 defeat at the hands of Mike Johnson in the second round), Heyward advanced among the winners' side final four for a contest against Daniel Adams. David Styers, in the meantime, met up with Trent Talbert. Heyward sent Adams packing 9-4 (Adams racing to 6), as Styers, in a straight-up race to 6, downed Talbert 6-2. Heyward got into the hot seat with a 9-4 win over Styers, and waited for Dix to complete his loss-side run.
 
With two victories already on the board, Dix gave up only a single rack, in total, to Robert Worsham (0) and Guy Faulk, and picked up Adams. Talbert drew Phillip Britt, who'd gotten by Collin Hall and Dale Holt, both 8-4, although with Holt racing to five, that was a double hill match. Dix and Talbert downed Adams and Britt 8-2 and squared off against each other in the quarterfinals.
 
Dix took the quarterfinal match against Talbert 8-2, as well, and gave up one more rack in the semifinals, winning it 8-3 over Styers. In the opening set of the true double elimination final, Dix capitalized on a few Heyward errors and chalked up yet another 8-2 win (through his final six matches, Dix won 82% of the games he played; 48-10). Dix encountered some problems on his break in the second set, tending to allow Heyward to step to the table with a benevolent spread of balls. Heyward took full advantage, winning the second set 9-4, and the event title.
 
Shannon and Marge thanked Brent Hudgins and his staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Nick Varner Cues & Cases, Delta 13 Racks, Andy Gilbert Custom Cues, Tiger Products, and Lomax Custom Cues. Next up for the GSBT is a stop at Johnny Archer's place – The Marietta Billiard Club in Marietta, GA – for a $1,000-added Amateur 9-ball tournament, set for August 17-18.