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Wilkie double dips Ussery in finals of Delaware State 10-Ball Bar Box Championships

Shaun Wilkie, Tarek Elmalla and BJ Ussery

Shaun Wilkie and BJ Ussery entered the AZBilliards database for the first time at the turn of the century. Wilkie’s first recorded payout finish came when he finished 9th at a stop on the Planet Pool Tour in June, 2000. Ussery’s came in September that year, when he finished in a tie for 65th place in the 25th annual US Open 9-Ball Championships; won for the fifth and last time by Earl Strickland. 

Together, Wilkie and Ussery are part of a core group of Mid-Atlantic elite players whose names have appeared consistently, registering victories and cash payout finishes for over two decades. Together, along with a number of other well-known, consistent performers among the Mid-Atlantic pool community (Brett Stottlemeyer, Steve Fleming and Chris Wilburn, among others) and a few from the further-North-Atlantic community (Raphael Dabreo and Miguel LaBoy, among others), they signed on to compete in the 1st Annual Delaware State 10-Ball Bar Box Championships, held last weekend (May 7-8). Together, they advanced to the hot seat match and later, played in the finals. Ussery claimed the hot seat before, together, they appeared in the finals, treating spectators and viewers on a live stream to a pair of double elimination matches that eventually earned Wilkie the event title. The event drew 57 entrants to Milford Billiards in Dover, DE.

Ussery’s path to the hot seat match went through five opponents, who, combined, chalked up only 10 racks against him; Henry Taylor (2), Nelson Tull (1), Steve Fleming (3), Miguel Laboy (3) and, in a winners’ side semifinal, Vinny Cimarelli (1). Wilkie’s opponents on his way to the hot seat match chalked up 14; Mike Saleh (1), Zachary Paitsel (3), Dave Barnes (3), Marty Ciccia (2) and, in the other winners’ side semifinal, Lukas Fracasso-Verner (5). 

The opponent racks-against tipped even further in Ussery’s direction, as he claimed the hot seat 7-4. Ussery was in the hot seat with a 42-14 record (a 75% game-winning average), as Wilkie headed off to the semifinals at 39-20 (66%). 

Neither of them, as it turned out, would have to face the one competitor who’d recorded the most racks against either of them, Fracassso-Verner. He moved to the loss side and picked up Raphael Dabreo, who’d lost his second-round match to Rick Miller and embarked on an eight-match, loss-side winning streak, which would end in the semifinals against Wilkie. Dabreo had just recently eliminated Miguel Laboy 7-4 and Russ Redhead 7-3. Cimarelli drew a re-match against Kirill Rutman Kenny, whom he’d defeated in a winners’ side third round match and had gone on five-match winning streak that had recently included the elimination of two of the aforementioned Mid-Atlantic elites;  Brett Stottlemeyer 7-5 and Steve Fleming 7-1.

Dabreo eliminated Fracasso-Verner 7-5, as Kenny extended his loss-side streak to six matches with a 7-4 win over Cimarelli. Kenny didn’t give up his streak easily, as he and Dabreo fought to double hill in the quarterfinals; the first of four straight double hill matches at the very end of the championship event. The second came in the semifinals, as Dabreo battled Wilkie to a single deciding game before Wilkie earned his rematch against Ussery. 

One can’t ask much more of a regional event final than to have two of its strongest competitors battling to double hill. Twice. And they did. By winning the hot seat match, Ussery had, in effect, extended Wilkie’s match count by one. Wilkie made him pay for that extra match he’d had to play, defeating him twice in what was described as “a very wonderful two sets of pool” that closed out the 1st Annual Delaware State’s 10-Ball Bar Box Championships with Wilkie in possession of the title.

Tour director Tarek Elmalla extended thanks to Leo and Sherrie Weigand and their Milford Billiards staff for their hospitality and to all of the players who came from near and far (New York, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and more) to compete. He also thanked the folks at https://www.amateursportsstream.com, including Ray Netta and to everyone who joined him in the booth for the live streaming, which, for feature matches, utilized three camera angles that heightened the experience for all of its viewers. And in the ‘keeping everything smooth’ department, Elmalla also acknowledged the assistance of Travis Parker, Ran Ji, Jennifer Benton Boxwell and Eric Probst.

The next item on the Delaware State Championship agenda will entail a switch to 8-Ball, when the 1st Annual DE State 8-Ball Bar Box Championships, scheduled for the weekend of June 25-26, opens the doors, once again, at Milford Billiards in Dover, DE.

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Stottlemyer takes two out of three vs. Spohr to claim MD State Bar Table 9-Ball Championship

Brett Stottlemyer

The last time Brett Stottlemyer won On the Hill Production’s MD State Bar Table 9-Ball Championships in 2020, he came from the loss-side, faced a teenager, Dylan Spohr, in the semifinals and went on to double dip Oklahoma’s Joe Tomkowski in the finals. Two years later, this past weekend (April 9-10), Stottlemyer and now, an officially adult (21) Spohr faced each other three times; once in a winner’s side semifinal and twice in a double elimination final. Stottlemyer sent Spohr to the loss side in the first, Spohr took the second and Stottlemyer claimed the 2022 MD State Bar Table 9-Ball title with a victory in the third. The $2,500-added event drew 75 entrants to Brews & Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.

After being awarded an opening round bye, Stottlemyer’s path went through Todd Michael,  before he faced and defeated the ‘favorite’ in the race, Shaun Wilkie in a double hill fight. He followed with wins over Deomark Alpajera and Glen Loveland to draw Spohr in their winners’ side semifinal matchup.

Meanwhile, Rick Miller, looking for his first recorded win since he came back from a loss, battling for the hot seat, to meet and defeat Andrew Cleary in the finals at a stop on the former Predator Pro Am Tour four years ago, worked his way through four opponents, two of which (Ricardo Diaz and Russ Redhead) gave him a double hill run for his money, two others who came within a game of double hill (Rick Molineiro and Scott Haas; 7-5) and Norman Wagner, his first opponent, who chalked up four against him. Miller faced Bobby Pacheco in the other winners’ side semifinal. 

In their first of three, Stottlemyer downed Spohr 7-4 and by the same score, Miller sent Pacheco to the loss side. Stottlemyer claimed the hot seat over Miller 7-3 and waited on Spohr’s return.

On the loss side, Spohr picked up Jimmy Rivera, who, after losing to Pacheco 7-4 in a winners’ side quarterfinal had eliminated Paul Oh 7-4 and Scott Haas 7-3. Pacheco drew Wilkie, who’d followed his double-hill loss to Stottlemyer with six straight on the loss side, including recent wins over Moe Mozannar 7-1 and Molineiro 7-2. 

Wilkie and Pacheco locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Wilkie to the quarterfinals, as Spohr downed Rivera 7-4 to join him. Wilkie’s loss-side run came to end at seven matches in those quarterfinals, with Spohr advancing 7-2 to meet and defeat Miller in the semifinals 7-4.

Momentum went to work for Spohr in the opening set of the finals. Coming off his three loss-side wins, Spohr rolled into that opening set and gave up only three racks. The second set was a much tighter race until the very end. Tied at 3-3, Stottlemyer won two straight before Spohr came back to take the 9th rack, giving him a chance to break and tie it up again at 5-5. 

Things went pretty smoothly in that 10th rack, with Stottlemyer up 5-4, and with four balls left, it looked like Spohr would, indeed, be tying things up. He lined up to shoot the 6-ball into a corner pocket; a pretty straight-forward shot, running it straight up, about three inches off the rail, with enough of an angle to give him good position on the 7-ball. As the 6-ball moved in the right direction, it looked pretty good. Until it didn’t. It caught an edge of the pocket and rattled in the doorway before deciding to stay outside.

Spohr collapsed forward on the table. He knew he hadn’t just missed a shot. With Brett Stottlemyer stepping to the table, Spohr was fairly certain that he’d just missed his chance at winning the title. He was right. It wasn’t precisely over at that point. Stottlemyer did finish the 10th rack to move out in front 6-4 and Spohr got to break and did win the 11th rack to pull back within one at 6-5. But on the hill, Stottlemyer broke, dropping three balls, and then, ran out to claim the title.

On the Hill Productions’ Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues on the Boulevard, as well as sponsors AlleyKat Cue Sports, AZBilliards.com, Aramith Balls, Bull Carbon, Simonis Cloth, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region, Safe Harbor Retirement Planners, Whyte Carbon Fiber Cue Shafts, OB Cues and MB Cues.

On the Hill Productions will be back at Brews & Cues on the Boulevard at the end of the month, when they bring event #4 in the Bar Box Bonanza Series, a FargoRate 8-Ball tournament (April 30-May 1).

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The “Munchkin” breaks through, downs Stottlemeyer to claim MD State 8-Ball Championships

Brett Stottlemyer and Steve Johnson

“He’s short,” said Loye Bolyard, co-tour director of On the Hill Productions’ Maryland State Championship events, “and people were always busting on him about it.”

Over the years, Steve Johnson has good-naturedly absorbed an expected array of potential nicknames related to his height; “Shorty,” of course, being the most common. Until one day, he corrected someone by suggesting that they refer to him as the “Munchkin.” It’s stuck, if not before, certainly now, as the “Munchkin” just completed a successful run through a field of 50 entrants at this past weekend’s (March 12-13) MD State 8-Ball Championships. According to Bolyard, while Johnson’s been a regular competitor on the MD State series of events, as well as a cash winner at any number of small, venue-specific tournaments, it’s the first time that the “Munchkin” has recorded a major (recorded) tournament payout and it was a win. The event drew its 50 entrants to Brews & Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.

It’s rare to the point of being remarkable that a player with almost no known history of success at the tables can break through at a tournament featuring a number of better-known and presumably, better players. Not completely unheard of, but certainly rare enough to gain ‘remarkable’ status. And while the game was 8-ball, known to offer players more kinds of opportunities to frustrate opponent plans, and he wasn’t up against the likes of Jayson Shaw, Shane Van Boening or Fedor Gorst, the “Munchkin” didn’t get a lot of luck from the bracket draws. He had to get by (among others) the likes of Matt Krah, Jimmy Rivera, Scott Haas and eventually, had to double dip Brett Stottlemeyer in the finals to claim his first event title.

“We don’t know what happened,” said Bolyard. “He’d won one of those weekly tournaments the Friday before and he just kept his nerves under control. He was really calm all the way through.”

“He kept his composure together and everything just clicked for him,” he added. “He was able (in the finals) to put Brett in some lockdowns; good ones that stopped runouts. He had him 4-0 in that first set.”

It started well for the “Munchkin.” He opened with a shutout over Tim Metter and then got by Christie Hurdel and Joseph Wright, Jr. before encountering Matt Krah in a winners’ side quarterfinal. They fought the proverbial ‘tooth and nail’ to 5-5 before Johnson picked up ‘6,’ advancing to a winners’ side semifinal against Jimmy Rivera. Like Johnson, Stottlemeyer opened with a shutout (over Bruce Brunnell) before facing his own ‘rogue’s gallery’ of familiar combatants, any one of whom could have derailed his trip to the hot seat; Rick Miller, Steve Fleming and, in a winners’ side quarterfinal, Scott Haas. Going into the winners’ side quarterfinals, there was a potential father/son battle for the hot seat looming on the event horizon. But while Thomas did his part, downing Thomas Zippler 6-3, Stottlemeyer sent his Dad to the loss side in a double hill fight and picked up son Thomas in the other winners’ side semifinal. This shifted the potential father/son battle to the loss side, where they eventually met in the quarterfinals.

Stottlemeyer made short work of son Thomas Haas 6-1, as Johnson was dispatching Rivera to the loss side 6-4. In the first of their three matches, Stottlemeyer dominated, for the second time in a row giving up only a single rack. He sat in the hot seat, one would assume, fairly confident that he’d be chalking up the one win he needed to claim the title.  

On the loss side, the Haas family was at work, looking to match up in the quarterfinals. Dad had followed his loss to Stottlemeyer with victories over Bryan Jones 6-2 and Zippler 6-1 to draw Rivera. Son Thomas picked up Eric Lyons, who was working on a modest four-match, loss-side streak that had recently eliminated Matt Krah 6-4 and co-tour director Rick Scarlato, Jr. 6-1.

Father and son downed their respective opponents, Rivera and Lyons, by the same 6-3 score and the quarterfinal family fight was on. Oddly enough, it was won by the same 6-3 score that had made the match happen. It was Dad Scott who advanced to the semifinals against the “Munchkin.” 

The reportedly “calm” and “composed” Johnson kept the ‘cool’ going in the face of a double hill challenge from the last Haas standing. He weathered that storm, eliminating Haas to put an even more daunting challenge on his ‘dance card;’ the necessary two-step tango to pry Brett Stottlemeyer from his perch in the hot seat.

The “Munchkin” grabbed the first set 6-3, which almost certainly had a way of boosting his confidence, while on the other side of the table, the pressure was suddenly on. Johnson won the second set 6-4 to claim MD State’s 8-Ball Championships and earn his first payout entry into AZBilliards’ database.

On the Hill Productions’ Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues on the Boulevard, as well as sponsors AlleyKat Cue Sports, AZBilliards.com, Aramith Balls, Bull Carbon, Simonis Cloth, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region, Safe Harbor Retirement Planners, Whyte Carbon Fiber Cue Shafts, OB Cues and MB Cues.

On the Hill Productions will be back at Brews & Cues on the Boulevard for its next three events. Its first, a 10-Ball Scotch Doubles event for teams with a combined FargoRate of 1200 or under, scheduled for the weekend of March 26-27, will be #3 in its Bar Box Bonanza series. April will bring two events, blending into May. The MD State Bar Table 9-Ball Championships (April 9-10) and #4 in the Bar Box Bonanza Series, a FargoRate 8-Ball tournament (April 30-May 1). 

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