Wheeler Takes Fury Finals with Hill-Hill Thrill Shot

Forty-two players met at Baron's Billiards in Bradenton June 5th for the Central Florida Fury Amateur 9-Ball tour's 9th stop. As always, the field was full of talented players looking for the win. By day's end there were four favorites competing for the win.

The winner's bracket was all action as Julio Aquino matched up with Adam Wheeler to determine who would get a spot in the hot seat match. Wheeler was the one to take the win 7-4 and enter the hot seat match with a game stat of 35-14. Meanwhile Nomar Paula was battling Jose Ybarra for a spot in the hot seat match. Ybarra, who placed third in the last event, shot steady and kept his cool to earn a 7-2 win, bringing his win-loss record to 28-8.

It was no easy race when Wheeler and Ybarra played it out for king of the hill. Things started off well for Ybarra when he ran out the first rack and then capitalized on the next two racks for a 3-0 lead. Wheeler captured the next rack but Ybarra kept charging and took a big 5-1 lead in the race to 7. A safely battle over the 6 in the next rack ended with Wheeler running out to trail 5-2. The true tide turner came in the next rack when Ybarra kicked safe on the 2-ball and Wheeler kicked it in and ran out to tighten the score to 5-3. Wheeler got the better of the next two racks to tie up at 5-5. Ybarra took the next rack to get on the hill 6-5 but Wheeler broke and ran to catch up 6-6 again. Ybarra had the break in the case game but scratched and Wheeler ran out to take the hot seat match 7-6.

On the B-side, things were heating up as points-leaders Julio Aquino and Nomar Paula matched up to see who would challenge Ybarra in the semifinals. Paula controlled the match from the go with strong shooting and tight safeties and took at 4-1 lead in the race to 5. A safety battle in a tied up rack ended with Aquino claiming ball in hand. Aquino made the one and then put away a 2, 7, 9 combo to trail 4-2. Aquino then scratched on the break and Paula ran out to finish 5-2 and meet Ybarra in the semifinals.

The semis were a rematch between Paula and Ybarra with Ybarra carrying a 7-2 win over Paula. Paula broke and scratched and Ybarra put away a combo to gain a quick 1-0. Uncharacteristic end-game errors by both players cost them games and the score sat at 3-1 in Ybarra's favor. Ybarra then played safe and secured ball in hand to run out the next rack and go up 4-1. Paula got the better of the next rack to get the score to 4-2 but Ybarra broke and ran the final rack to win 5-2 and move into the finals.

The rematch between Wheeler and Ybarra was reminiscent of the hot seat match with Ybarra starting strong with two outs and a carom to go up 3-0. Wheeler then ran out the next two racks to keep the score close at 3-2. Ybarra took the next rack and then played a 2-9 combo to quickly charge ahead to 5-2. Wheeler took the next two racks and then a 2-9 combo of his own to tie it up at 5-5. The players each notched another game to tie 6-6 and Ybarra broke the tie with an out to go up 7-6. Ybarra looked to be on his way to the hill until he missed the 7 and let Wheeler back in at 7-7. Wheeler was forced to play a safety on the 8-ball in the next rack and Ybarra banked it in and took the nine to get on the hill first 8-7. As he did in the hot seat match, Wheeler came through with a break and run to get on the hill and make for an intense hill-hill final. Ybarra had the break but didn't pocket a ball, letting Wheeler to the table. Wheeler ran out to the 5-ball but missed shape and the cue ball rolled up on the six. He banked in the six but missed a cut shot on the 8 in the top corner pocket. The 8-ball rolled onto the rail above the point of the side pocket. Ybarra went for the cross corner bank but the 8-ball narrowly caught the jaws of the pocket. The 8-ball then rolled to a spot a few inches off the top rail, near the middle diamond and the cue ball was on the bottom rail by the nine. Wheeler studied the layout and the crowd speculated on his options of a safe, bank or cut shot. He chose the cut shot and sliced it in. Wheeler had to use a bridge for a cut on the 9-ball but shot it in and took the match 9-8 and Ybarra took home 2nd.

1st Adam Wheeler $510
2nd Jose Ybarra $320
3rd Nomar Paula $210
4th Julio Aquino $110
5th/6th Justin Hall, Brian Dixon $55
7th/8th Louis Altes, Rich Schau $40