Van Boening over Strickland for Fifth Turning Stone Title

Shane Van Boening (Erwin Dionisio)
Shane Van Boening is the Turning Stone Classic XXXII Champion, but it was a nail biter until the end. 
While the event has been dominated recently by Van Boening and Jayson Shaw, winning five of the last six titles, this event was all about the resurgent play of BCA Hall of Famer Earl Strickland. Strickland already had a one sided 9-5 win over Van Boening on Saturday, and he kicked off his Sunday with a hill-hill win over Thorsten Hohmann. While Strickland was sending the German to the one loss side, Shaw was sending America’s Brandon Shuff to join Hohmann 9-7. 
On the one loss side, Van Boening eliminated Rafael Dabreo in 7th place, and Billy Thorpe ended Frankie Hernandez’s run in the same place. Van Boening and Thorpe welcomed the two players coming from the winner’s side and then sent them to the stands in a tie for 5th place with Thorpe beating Hohmann and Van Boening over Shuff. 
The hot-seat match between Strickland and Shaw featured the usual dominating play that we are used to seeing in a Jayson Shaw match, with one big exception. This time, it was Shaw in the chair and his opponent doing the dominating. Earl raced to a 5-0 lead before Shaw was able to get to the table with a shot. Strickland’s lead ballooned to 7-0 with Shaw unable to capitalize on any opportunities. Strickland, on the other hand, was running out from everywhere and punishing Shaw for the smallest of mistakes. By the time is was over, Strickland was celebrating a 9-1 win and Shaw was waiting to see who he would face in the Semi-Final. 
While this was going on, Van Boening and Thorpe were battling it out on the one loss side. The final score (9-5 Van Boening) didn’t accurately summarize how close this match really was. There were many safety exchanges, leading to a slow match without the usual fireworks.
The semi-final match was the showdown between Van Boening and Shaw that the fans had expected all weekend, but it wasn’t much of a battle. Van Boening brought his usual intensity to the match, but Shaw seemed to be suffering the after effects of the previous match. His “will to win” just wasn’t there in this match. Final score: 9-4 Van Boening.
The final match couldn’t have been much closer. Van Boening had control early in the match and held an early three rack lead, but Strickland wasn’t done and fought back to take a late two rack lead. Van Boening then came back to tie things at 11-11 in the race to thirteen. Van Boening was the first to the hill and Strickland played a great safety to leave Van Boening locked up, facing the possibility of a hill-hill match if he left Strickland any shot. The vast majority of kicks by players, at a match of this level, are controlled and calculated shots. They are kicking with a purpose in mind. Then there are the kicks like this one. Van Boening lined up the angle on the kick and stroked it hard. Hard enough to strike the intended ball and get the 9-ball rolling the length of the table and into the corner pocket to give him a 13-11 finals win over Strickland. 
The title is Van Boening's fifth Turning Stone Classic title, one less than both Johnny Archer and Jayson Shaw. The win was worth $8,000 for Van Boening, with Strickland settling for a disappointing $5,000 in second place prize money.