Great Southern Billiard Tour / Chattanooga, TN
by Skip Maloney
Donny Branson faced down a strong one-loss side challenge from David Rice to take first place at the Great Southern Billiard Tour’s stop the weekend of January 10-11. The $1,500-added event drew 68 amateurs to Diamond Billiards in Chattanooga, TN, and was the last event preceding the tour championships to be held in the same venue February 4-8.
Branson was among the winners’ side final four and defeated Mike Jones 8-3 to move into the hot seat match versus Rick Powers. Powers had barely survived a double-hill battle against 14-year-old Landon Shuffett, fresh from his first-place win less than a week ago at Truman Hogue’s 9-ball tournament in Louisville, KY. Branson gained the hot seat with an 8-3 win over Powers and waited for a return that didn’t happen.
David Rice, on his way to the finals, had moved among the event’s final 12 and defeated both Jeff Click and Gabe Apollos to eliminate Jones. Josh O’Neal got past Charlie Lane and Marcus Pendley and then ousted Shuffett. It was Rice and O’ Neal facing each other in the quarterfinals, where Rice took immediate command and defeated O’Neal 8-1. Powers put up a fight, but Rice prevailed in the semifinals 8-5 and moved into the double-elimination finals against Branson.
Building on his own momentum, Rice took the first set 8-6. Branson took the second set and the first-place prize by the same score.
1st Donny Branson $1,000
2nd David Rice $600
3rd Rick Powers $400
4th Josh O’Neal $200
5th Mike Jones $140
7th Gabe Apollos $90
9th Mike Laney $60