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Ussery goes undefeated to claim Open 9th Annual NC State Championship

BJ Ussery

Norris comes from the loss side to win first separate Ladies division tournament

BJ Ussery was challenged early, twice, having to win his first two matches, double hill, versus Ron Canterbury and junior competitor Cole Lewis, before settling in and eventually going undefeated to win the 9th Annual NC State Championships, held under the auspices of the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour this past weekend (Nov. 5-7). He was challenged in the finals by Jeff Abernathy, who, looking for his first win on the tour since March of 2019, won five on the loss side to reach him. The $1,500-added event drew 38 entrants to Randolph’s Billiards in Hickory, NC. 

In the first-ever separate Ladies championship, Christy Norris won three on the loss side to challenge Nikki Mancuso Benish in the finals. Norris claimed the event’s first title with a victory in those finals. The $500-added Ladies event drew 16 entrants.

Ussery’s trip to the winners’ circle went through Abernathy in a winners’ side quarterfinal, advancing at that point to face JT Ringgold, looking for his victory on the tour since June of 2019. In the meantime, two-time 2021 BEF Junior National Champion (separate divisions) and winner of the recent Junior International Championships in the 18 & Under division, Landon Hollingsworth advanced to his winners’ side semifinal match against Kelly Farrar.

Ussery downed Ringgold 9-7, while Hollingsworth sent Farrar over 9-2 (matches were race to 9 on the winners’ side and 7 on the loss side). Ussery claimed the hot seat 9-4 over Hollingsworth and waited on Abernathy.

On the loss side, Farrar drew Abernathy, who’d followed his loss versus Ussery with wins over Barry Mashburn 7-4 and, moving into the first money round, Brian Francis 7-5. Ringgold picked up a rematch versus Trent Talbert, whom he’d defeated in the third round, and who was embarked on his own five-match, loss-side winning streak that had just eliminated Joey Tate 7-4 (Tate was runner-up to Hollingsworth at the JIC, 18 & Under event last month) and, double hill, Mike Bumgarner.

In what Tour Director Herman Parker called the “upset of the tournament,” Talbert defeated Ringgold 7-2 and advanced to the quarterfinals. Abernathy joined Talbert,  after downing Farrar 7-4.

Abernathy was working on his fourth loss-side victory, while Talbert was trying to win his fifth. Abernathy wasted little time eliminating Talbert 7-1 in those quarterfinals, and then, dispatched Hollingsworth 7-3 in the semifinals. 

At that point, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, Ussery and Abernathy negotiated a settlement that gave the title and a share of the top two prizes to Ussery.

Christy Norris

Norris, looking for her first win in almost two years, finds it

Prior to the 2021 NC State Championships, Christy Norris had only cashed in two (reported) events since January of 2020. That January, she won the Music City Classic’s Ladies Division and this past September, she finished as runner-up to Nikki Benish Mancuso in the Ladies Carolina Cup Bar Table 9-Ball event in Chesnee, SC. She and Mancuso battled twice in this one; once in a winners’ side semifinal and again, in the finals. They split the two matches, Norris winning the critical second match in the finals.

In their first of two (all winners’ side matches were races to 7), Mancuso sent Norris to the loss side 7-5 and advanced to the hot seat match. Betty Lee Sessions joined her after defeating Beth Allen 7-1. Mancuso defeated Sessions 7-4 to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side in races to 5, Norris picked up Casey Cork, who defeated Lisa Cossette 5-2 and Teri Stovall 5-3 to reach her. Allen drew Katie Bischoff, who’d recently shut out Mallory Waters and eliminated Sierra Ballard 5-2. Norris downed Cork 5-3, as Bischoff and Allen battled to double hill, before Bischoff advanced to the quarterfinals.

Norris gave up just a single rack each to Bischoff in those quarterfinals and then, Sessions in the semifinals. She claimed the inaugural Ladies title of the NC State Championships with a 9-6 victory in her rematch against Mancuso in the finals.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked Randy and Rebecca Penley Canipe and their staff at Randolph’s for their hospitality, as well Kirk Overcash for adding $500 to the Ladies event. He also thanked title sponsor Viking Cues,, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat,, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (Nov. 13-14), will be a $500-added ($1k with 64 entrants), hosted by Breaktime Billiards in Winston-Salem, NC.

The Whites – Brian and Hunter – split top prizes on 2nd Annual Carolina Cup

Nikki Mancuso returns to the tables to go undefeated in short-field Ladies Cup

The Labor Day weekend and its multiplicity of places to go and things to do may have had an attendance impact on the 2nd Annual Carolina Cup, held under the auspices of the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour at Break & Run Billiards in Chesnee, SC over the past weekend (Sept. 3-5). While the 2020 inaugural event drew 77 entrants, the 2021 version hosted only 40 in the $1,000-added Open event and drew 13 for the $500-added Ladies Cup.

Brian and Hunter White (no relation) ended up splitting the top two prizes in the Open event. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat at the time of their decision, Brian White became the event’s official winner. For the second year in a row, Hunter White was the event’s runner-up, having finished behind Josh Roberts in the inaugural event. Hunter had won nine matches on the loss side to earn his spot in the finals that never happened.

Nikki Mancuso

In the Ladies Cup, Nikki Mancuso went undefeated through the field, returning once again to the tables after a protracted absence. Most likely best known for her presence among members of the WPBA back in the ‘00s, her best recorded earnings year, to date, was 2004, when she was cashing in on the Viking Tour, a pair of WPBA events (Delta & San Diego Classics) and the Atlanta Women’s Open. In 2008, she and Katie Cowan “shared top honors” on the Carolina Ladies J. Pechauer tour’s debut stop that year. Eight years later, she showed up in Georgia to win the WPBA’s Georgia State 9-Ball Championships. Fast forward four years (Sept. 17-18, 2020), when she finished as runner-up to Janet Atwell in the Cue Time Shootout 9-Ball Open Women’s division in Spartanburg, SC. 

And on this past Labor Day weekend, she chalked up her first win since that “shared honor” victory with Katie Cowan, 13 years ago. She and Christy Norris battled twice for the Ladies Cup of this dual event; hot seat and finals. Mancuso won the first one 7-3 to claim the hot seat.

Norris moved over to battle the former APA National Women’s Amateur Champion (2018), Lisa Cossette. who had just eliminated Meagan McClain, double hill, in the quarterfinals. Norris downed Cossette 5-3 for a second shot at Mancuso, waiting for her in the hot seat.

Mancuso completed her run in the only set necessary in a true double elimination final. She gave up only a single rack to Norris and claimed her first (recorded) event title in five years.

Brian White

Hunter White wins nine on the loss side for rematch versus Brian White that doesn’t materialize

In the absence of a defending champion for this event (Josh Roberts), Hunter White had to be thinking that he could grab this title on his second try. For the second year in a row, he came within a single match, the finals, of doing so. He’d been sent to the loss side by Brian White and chalked up nine loss-side victories before earning a rematch and then, reaching an agreement not to play one and split the top two prizes.

With his eventual finals opponent already at work on the loss side, Brian White advanced to a winners’ side semifinal versus Ryan Hollingsworth. Billy Fowler, in the meantime, drew Rob Hart as his winners’ side semifinal challenger.

White advanced to the hot seat match with a 9-5 win over Hollingsworth and was joined by Fowler, who’d sent Hart west 9-7. White claimed the hot seat 9-5 over Fowler in what would prove to be his (White’s) last battle.

On the loss side, the other ‘White’ (Hunter) was working on loss-side win #7, having recently eliminated Zack Baker 7-5 and junior competitor, Landon Hollingsworth (no relation to Ryan) 7-1. White drew Hart. Ryan Hollingsworth drew Jacob Brooks, who’d defeated Josh Heeter, double hill and Clay Davis 7-1 to reach him.

White downed Hart 7-3, as Hollingsworth eliminated Brooks 7-2. White then defeated Hollingsworth in the quarterfinals 7-5. In what would turn out to be his final match, Hunter White downed Fowler 7-2 in the semifinals. The two ‘Whites’ opted out of the final, negotiated a split of the top two prizes, with Brian White as official winner and the 2nd Annual Carolina Cup was, as they say, in the books.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked Break & Run Billiards’ owners, Kevin Lawter and Tammy Collins for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues,, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Diamond Brat, Federal Savings Bank’s Mortgage Division and AZBilliards. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for Sept. 11-12, will be a $250-added event, to be hosted by Rock House Billiards in Gastonia, NC. 

Mancuso Wins WPBA Georgia State 9-Ball Championship

Belinda Calhoun and Nikki Banish Mancuso

Rack and Grill II was the host site for the WPBA Georgia State 9-Ball Championship.  Owner, Kris Kuneman was celebrating his 70th Birthday on July 16 with family and friends while the women were celebrating the competition. Tiger SMART wishes Chris the happiest of Birthdays.
Tiger SMART was thrilled to see Nikki Benish Mancuso return to the arena having been away from the game since 2000.  Nikki’s entourage, Father Ray Benish, husband Joe Mancuso and eleven year old son, Cameron were also her training team and showed what a good team they were. Nikki was consistently a top 16 ranked player while she was on the tour.
After losing 4-7 to Calhoun in the first round, Nikki tore through the loser’s bracket with wins over Krystal Kelson 7-4; Christi Steele 7-6; Marianne Merrill 7-6; Cheryl Pritchard 7-1; and Buffy Jolie 7-1 to get to the final match against Calhoun.  Nikki was in dead punch and ran, going away 9-4 for the title. Congratulations to Nikki Mancuso for her WPBA Georgia State 9-Ball Championship.
Congratulations to all the players and to Buffy Jolie – 3rd; Cheryl Pritchard – 4th; Tiffany Stidham 5-6; Marianne Merrill 5-6; Lisa Cossette – 7-8; and Christi Steele – 7-8.
Tiger SMART would like to acknowledge Tiger Products, Simonis, Aramith, Quick-Clean, and Ozone Billiards for their continued support of our phenomenal sport.