White and Ussery split top prizes on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Hunter White

NC Governor eases restrictions in the state

North Carolina’s Governor Roy Cooper signed an executive order last Friday (Feb. 26) that returned indoor service at bars and increased seating capacity for indoor sporting events in the state. In what he likened to a ‘dimmer switch,’ Governor Cooper, with the stroke of his pen, used that switch to increase participation in pool tournaments and set the full-blooded Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour back in motion. After months of restrictions which had inhibited Tour Director Herman Parker’s ability to schedule events at certain locations, the tour returned to (more or less) business as usual with an event over the weekend (Feb. 27-28).

According to the executive order, many indoor facilities that had faced some of the state’s strictest restrictions will now be allowed to reopen with limits. In an ‘umbrella’ list of such facilities, the designation of ‘gaming facilities’ was included and cleared the path for such businesses to open at 30% capacity, with a cap of 250 people. High school sporting events and outdoor amusement parks, with the same 30% capacity, were included in the lifting of restrictions, although parades are still off-limits. The executive order re-emphasized the need to continue masking and social distancing practices.

The Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour and many of its core group of regular competitors got right back to it, with this past weekend’s event drawing 87 entrants to Gate City Billiards Club in Greensboro, NC. The event was organized in part to help defray medical costs and assist the family of Alissa Murph, who, in a series of follow-ups to a routine doctor visit, discovered that she had cancer. In all, the event raised close to $2,000 for Murph and her family.

Late on Sunday night (or early Monday morning, depending on how you look at it), Hunter White and BJ Ussery, though not forced to do so by any previously mandated curfews, agreed to a split of the event’s top two prizes. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat at the time, White claimed the official event title.

White and Ussery did compete against each other, once, battling for the hot seat. White had sent Hank Powell to the loss side 9-4 in one of the winners’ side semifinals, as Ussery was busy sending Chad Snody over 12-4. White claimed the hot seat, winning what proved to be his last match, with a 9-9 victory over Ussery (Ussery racing to 12).

Snody and Powell got right back into the thick of things in their first matches on the loss side. Snody drew Barry Mashburn, who’d defeated Jeff Little 9-1 and moved into the first money round by eliminating Brent Kyles 9-3. Powell picked up Anthony Mabe, who’d gotten by Justin Knuckles and Bryan Pate, both 7-3.

Mashburn and Mabe both had their loss-side journeys terminated. Mashburn fell to Snody, double hill. Mabe was eliminated by Powell 7-3.

Powell took the quarterfinal over Snody 7-2 and then, due to the lateness of the hour and the prospect of a long drive home, forfeited the potential semifinal match versus Ussery. Ussery and White subsequently agreed to a split of the top two prizes and White’s official standing as the winner of the event.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Gate City Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, AZBilliards, Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division and Dirty South Grind Apparel Co. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend, March 6-7, will be a Scotch Doubles event, hosted by Jac’s All-American Billiards in Newport, TN.