Third time’s a charm for Shuff at VA State Championship

After placing second for the past two years, Brandon Shuff broke through to win the 6th annual Virginia State 9-Ball Championships on the weekend of July 18-19. Added to the $3,600 prize pool were two paid entries to the US Open, granted to Shuff and runner-up, John Newton. A third paid entry was awarded to 17-year-old Chris Bruner. The event, hosted by Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA, drew a full field of 64 entrants.

“This is my sixth year running this event,” said Joshua Dickerson, “and the caliber of participants that showed up this year to compete was the best I've seen over those six years.

“Everyone played their hearts out,” he added, “and I couldn't have asked for a better finish.”

Joining Shuff among the winners' side final four on Sunday, were defending champion Eric Moore, Bruner, and Eric Charlton. Bruner sent Moore to the one-loss side with a decisive 9-2 victory, before facing Shuff in the hot seat match. Shuff, in the meantime, had bested Charlton 9-6, before moving into the hot seat with a 9-2 win over Bruner.

On the one-loss side, two recent arrivals – Matt Clatterbuck and John Newton – were at work on a three-game odyssey that would pit them against each other in the quarterfinals and ultimately, put Newton in the semifinals. Clatterbuck, who'd been sent over by Shuff, defeated Chris Futrell 9-2 and then, Bernie Kirby 9-3, for the right to meet Moore. Newton, in the meantime, who'd been sent west by Moore, got by Cary Dunn 9-5 and survived a hill-hill battle versus R.J. Carmona to meet Charlton. With identical 9-3 scores, Newton and Clatterbuck advanced to the quarterfinals and locked horns in a hill-hill struggle that sent Newton to the semifinals versus Bruner.

Bruner's bid ended with the semifinals, when he fell to Newton 9-3. His third place finish, however, earned him an unexpected entry into the US Open, thanks to Diamond Billiards.

“He was extended the free entry because of his composure and quality of play throughout the tournament,” said Dickerson.

Newton, in the meantime, had one more hill to climb. Having been sent to the one-loss side by the event's defending champion, Eric Moore, he'd battled back through five matches to enter the finals versus Shuff. In the race to 11 finals, the two battled back and forth until, about midway through the match, Shuff opened up a 3-rack lead that put him on the hill at 10-7. Newton fought back to narrow the gap by a single rack, before Shuff took advantage of a ball in hand to sink a 1-9 combination that finished it.