16th Annual Western BCA Regional Championships
By: John Lewis, with contributions from Rebecca Easley

Where were you during the week of March 7-13, 2011? If you were at Chinook Winds Casino Resort in Lincoln City, Oregon, chances are you were witness to the largest Regional 8-Ball tournament in the country -the 16th Annual Western BCA Regional 8-Ball Championships. What an event! Western BCA put on another great show. This tournament had everything; a record-breaking 1265 players - 3 of whom were junior players, $113,000 in prize money, giveaway prizes, free entries to BCAPL Nationals, the Grand Masters Challenge - featuring an inaugural Women’s event, a Diamond Pool Table raffle, live streaming every minute on the website, thousands of games of pool, and even a tsunami warning to keep things interesting. WOW!!! It was a sight to behold.

Upon arriving at the beautiful Oregon coast, pool players immediately head to Chinook Winds Casino Resort. Their superior staff always takes great care of the players at this tournament. Also making this event one of the best are the vendors - Billiards 911, The Parlor, Billiards and Barstools, and Hustlin USA, who supply the players with their pool needs and novelties desires. Bad Boys Billiard productions put out a spread of 80 Diamond Pool Tables, each with matching lights, to assure the players are playing on the best tables. The live streaming stage was set up with high-tech cameras and equipment by Rail2Rail Productions to really make this a memorable event. The tournament room doors opened to reveal the arena for the largest regional tournament of its type in the United States. And all of this was organized by a handful of dedicated Western BCA volunteers.

Monday morning at 9am the balls broke loose in Mixed Scotch Doubles and the games were on. In the Open division, Players Club LTD’s (LTD) Alisha Rogers and Chris Suarez jumped out and took the point but the Northwest Players League (NPL) team of David Ringler and Mandi Ritthaler were not to be denied, coming back through the loser’s bracket to challenge the point. Ringler and Ritthaler took the first match, but they had to beat Suarez and Rogers twice to win. In the end, Suarez and Rogers prevailed and earned the first championship title of this tournament.

In the Master Scotch division, there were some fireworks as NPL’s Mike Stevens and Cindy Doty came from the loser’s side to upstage Rich Geiler and Shari Ross of LTD. After a grueling first match and defeat, the team of Geiler and Ross tried to pull it together to avoid the double-dip, but Stevens and Doty were in the groove and won the first set. Playing late did not seem to bother them at all and they played like it was 3pm to take the title of Master Mixed Scotch Doubles Champions at 3am.

Tuesday morning began with the opening rounds of the Singles events. This year in the Men’s Novice division, Emerald Valley’s (EV) Dan Maricle rose up and took the win. In the Women’s Novice field, Dawn Mason, from Thurston County (TC), showed she is ready to move up by taking the win. Both players received a trophy, entry into the 2011 9-Ball Open Singles and a set of special numberless billiard balls from Prestige Billiard Products.

The Mens Open-B division featured 239 entries. There were many up and comer’s in this division, making it fun to watch. Only eight players could fit on the final bracket, so those fighting to be on top had to get tough. Inland BCA’s (INL) Terry Thurlow showed his stuff by taking the point and putting NPL’s Akio Nakashima in the loser’s bracket. Akio showed his resilience by knocking off Nick Dizard and challenging Terry for the top spot. In a rerun of the point match, Terry and Akio squared off again. This time Akio came out on top. In the deciding 2nd match, Akio was the stronger player and pulled off the victory.

There were a lot of new faces in the Womens Open event. The women played well into the night to earn a spot on the final board. Out of 140 entrants, only eight would make the cut. The final bracket contained many familiar faces as these ladies battled it out. Jessica Orth proved she was up to the challenge by taking the point and never looking back! Jessica earned her championship and is one of only three players at this event to go through undefeated. Jessica also received FREE entry into the Womens Singles at BCAPL Nationals. Shirley Morgan put up a good fight to earn second place honors. The Women’s Master division welcomes both NPL women with open arms and tables.

This year in the Senior divisions, there were some exceptional matches played. Keep in mind that these are players the who taught the rest of us – parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches and mentors who developed the next generation of top notch pool players. With that in mind, they showed they were no slouches on the tables. The Womens Senior event was topped by Central Washington’s (CWY) Patty Hayes in first and NPL’s Jean Bartholomew in second. In the Mens Senior bracket, Ronnie Migues, from Cascade Pool League (CPL), proved he still has it by holding off Mid-Valley’s (MID) Steve Baumann to take the top spot.

The Open-A division is always exciting to watch and this year was no different. These are the next master players so the games are bound to be good. Many of these guys are well known and can really shoot some stick! 180 guys chalked up, all vying for the top spot. The competition was fierce and many a young warrior fell. In the end, eight players made it to the final board. These players put on quite a show to get there, and now they would be truly tested. CPL’s Steve Copher proved he was up to the challenge. Racking up win after win, he took the point. After a first round loss, Leo Violette, from LTD, battled his way back to win the loser’s bracket and a chance at Copher. Both men played well as game after game was played. The first set went to Leo. He played strong enough to win the second match, taking the set and the Open-A division title, with Steve Copher finishing in second place. Leo also wins FREE entry to Men’s Open Singles at the BCAPL National 8-Ball Championships in Las Vegas in May.

In the Womens Master bracket, there were 29 women striving for the title of Womens Master Champion. This division is full of hot shots and talent. Deliberate and consistent play, not to mention some great shots, put CPL’s Josie LeRoy in the hot seat. Coming from the other side, NPL’s Mary Hopkin was determined and played strong until the end. In a match that pit two great players against each other, Josie proved she was in it to win it, taking the first match, going undefeated and winning the first place money.

The Mens Masters division was a show of consistency and control as table after table fell to the skills of the players. 77 men entered but only one could take the crown. This year there was a “wrinkle”, that coming in the form of a very impressive 16-year-old pool prodigy from CPL’s Classic Billiards in Portland, Chris Byers. He worked his way through the bracket like he belonged there. On the other side was LTD’s Damian Pongpanik, no stranger to strong competition. In their match, Damian proved he was top dog that day by knocking off Chris and taking the point. Chris showed his mettle by winning his next match to get another shot at Damian. In the finals, Damian had to really shoot his best game to take out the persistent junior, which he did and so became the only other player in the competition to go undefeated. Chris deserves props for battling to a strong second place showing in his first Western BCA tournament. Damian dedicated his hard-fought championship title to his mentor and friend, Rick John (1942-2011), who, he said, was a tremendous influence in his life.

Come Friday, it was time to start the team event. OH WAIT!! There was an earthquake in Japan on Thursday night! A tsunami warning was issued for the Oregon coast for Friday morning! Some people evacuated, some opted to stay. The highway was closed coming into town, so some teams were missing players. At the allotted time of about 7:15 a.m., the ocean outside of the casino put on a show and suddenly receded about 70 yards. For those who braved the event, it was quite beautiful in an eerie sort of way. Then the “tsunami” hit. Or, was that just a wave? Hard to tell, but either way we escaped calamity. As P.T. Barnum would say, “The show must go on,” and on it went, as did the remainder of the tournament

For those players who did not evacuate, Friday was an exciting night as Western BCA put on a show for the spectators, players and the live streaming audience. The Grand Masters Challenge concluded and the winners, Dan Louie of NPL and Linda Carter of Players Club GP were presented with their trophies. (Articles on each of the GMC events will follow) Western BCA gave a special tribute to retiring treasurer, Joyce Gumm, who was moved to tears by the show of love she received and the custom-made “Pink Ladies” style jacket.

Special guest, CSI/BCAPL Media Manager, Holly Ryan was on hand to help out with the moment thousands of players were waiting for: The drawing for the New Diamond Pro Am® Home Pool Table. Holly drew the winning ticket and that lucky winner is Ken Smith of Players Club GP, a new referee in training from Talent, OR. After all the excitement died down, the Team event proceeded as scheduled.

In the Mens/Mixed Open Team event, 132 teams competed for the Championship title. INL’s All In Balls Out from Spokane, Washington, showed they were here to play by storming through the winner’s side to take the point. Uncle Jack’s Billiards of LTD went into the loser’s bracket early, but quitting was not part of their vocabulary. Battling through to the final board, and then on to the finals, they proved they were contenders. So as not to be denied the final victory, Uncle Jack’s played like no other and took two matches from All In Balls Out to win the first place honors.

The Grand Masters joined various teams in the Mens/Mixed Master division to spice things up a bit. Only one designated Grand Master was allowed per team. KC’s Midway, from NPL and Cherry City (CC), made a strong showing by barreling through to the hot seat. Team Hustlin’, from Western Washington and LTD, had other things in mind for the guys from Oregon City. Team Hustlin’ had to hang in there on the B side of the brackets after an early loss to CPL’s Q Mungous. Stringing together multiple wins, the guys from Hustlin’ managed to get back to the point match through the backdoor. Hustlin’ right along, they made quick work of KC’s to force another match. With another double dip in the making, the final match started. KC’s and Team Hustlin’ battled long and hard, but in the end Team Hustlin’ pulled it out for first place.

The women of the Masters division put on one heck of a final as well. The Jawbreakers, women from CPL and NPL, played strong on their way to the point victory over the NPL Chix, gals from NPL and INL. Not to be taken lightly, the NPL Chix set their sights on the top spot. Winning the loser’s side and earning a rematch, the Chix chewed up the Jawbreakers in the first set to force a second match. The Chix definitely brought their sticks and showed the Jawbreakers that they could use them on the way to a first place finish.

The last event to finish was another nail-biter. The Womens Open Team event pitted CPL’s Chalk-A-Lot from Portland against the Shooting Stars of MID. Shooting Stars had the advantage of being on the point, and having to be beaten twice. That was not going to stop the Chalk-A-Lot women. They came in and won the first set in a tense hill-hill game. Going into the second set, the Chalk-A-Lot girls jumped out in front. The Shooting Stars answered and came back to bring the match to a hill-hill situation again. Showing off their shooting, the Stars took the hill game and thus the title of Womens Open Team Champions. Both Open Team Winners will receive FREE entry to BCAPL Nationals in Las Vegas in May, courtesy of CSI/BCAPL.

For those players and teams who didn’t finish in the money, Western BCA held 2nd chance tournaments for divisions with enough players signing up. Winners of the 2nd Chance tournaments are: WOS-Bonnie Andrews, MOAS-Scott Dzurik and Mike Siplivy (tie), MMS-George Stefurak, MOBS-Nick Oldham, and MMOT-Soundview Bar & Grill/2 Drink Minimum.

Championship titles, trophies and prize money were not the only things the players could win at this event. Every player who entered the tournament was also entered into the Giveaway Drawing for prizes donated by Western BCA’s generous local Lincoln City sponsors, Mueller Billiard Products and the vendors at the event. The Grand Prize, a 3-night stay at a Horizon Rentals vacation house, was won by Marla Mortensen of TC. Ashley Inn donated a week-long stay to the giveaway and Bobby Dressel, also of TC, was the lucky winner. NPL’s Dan Rodriguez will be staying at Captain Cook Inn for free at the next tournament. Terry Alverez, from the CC League won 2 nights at Lincoln City Inn and the Motel 6 winner is Bonnie Brown of NPL. Other gift certificates were donated by Maxwells, Mulligans, Mo’s and Galucci’s local restaurants that support the pool players. Chinook Winds, in addition to adding money to the event payouts, did a drawing from the players’ Winners’ Circle Card numbers for instant cash and those winners are: 1st-$250-Charles Burnett, 2nd-$150-Madalina Moreno and 3rd-$100-Eunice Sleight. Western BCA wishes to thank all of the sponsors who helped make this tournament one of the best events in the country.

When all was said and done, the 2011 8-Ball Championship was a very successful tournament, with the most players ever coming from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Canada. Prizes were won, checks were cashed, dreams of victory came true, and a good time was had by all who attended. New leagues are forming for the 2011-2012 year, and new players are joining. Where will you be during the week of October 11 - 16, 2011? Hope to see you at Chinook Winds Casino Resort in Lincoln City for the 2011 9-Ball Championships!