LaValley, Hillman, Nelson take top honors at pool tournament

ESCANABA — Dominick LaValley made the most of his final visit to the Great Lakes Youth pool tournament, earning top honors in the age 17-20 division here Saturday.

This marked the third time the 20-year-old Kingsford resident won the tourney, defeating 19-year-old Brody Hillman of New London, Wis. in the championship match.

“Concentration is the key and having a good crowd of people behind you helps,” he said. “Having been here before also helps. You get to know every table. I’m looking forward to the state finals (April 1-2 in Oshkosh, Wis.). Winning this tournament definitely gives me some momentum. I know what I need to do.”

Fourteen-year-old Kaden Hillman of New London was crowned champion of the 13-16 division with a victory over 13-year-old Eli Englund of Escanaba.

“I just took my time, thinking every shot through,” said Hillman, who won the 8-12 division three years ago and will be heading to a state tourney in Wausau, Wis. April 1-2. “I took it one match at a time. The field was more challenging this time because there a were lot more kids. We ran through a lot of balls and I won it by sinking the 8-ball in the corner pocket.”

Thirteen-year-old James Joseph of Hermansville, who took the 8-12 title a year ago, placed third in 13-16 Saturday.

“I made some real nice shots, some I normally wouldn’t make,” he said. “I think I put up a good run. I feel there were a lot more people here today and played better because of that. I feel bad for some of the people. They put up real good games, but accidentally hit the 8-ball and it rolled in.”

Six-year-old Dalton Nelson of New Lisbon, Wis. topped 12-year-old Nora Parker of Stephenson for the 8-12 championship.

“I had fun,” said Nelson. “I just like to play pool. I was scared at first because I was playing against older kids. I would like to come back.”

This marked the first tournament for Nelson and his championship-round opponent.

“I tried to be patient and slow things down,” said Parker. “I thought my bank shots went pretty well. The first time playing against an opponent was a little nerve wracking, but there was also a lot of adrenalin. It was fun. I’ll be back next year.”

Brianna Discher, a 13-year-old from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., was the highest girls’ finisher in her age group.

“I just believed in myself,” she said. “Although, at first it was real difficult. This was my first tournament. I didn’t think I’d get the trophy. There’s always a little luck involved. It feels real good to go home with the trophy. My sister (10-year-old Cedargauthier Discher) did real well, too.”

The tournament drew 42 players which director Don Shope believes is a step in the right direction.

“Last year was a down year,” he said. “That was our first year after Covid, but I was very impressed with today’s turnout, especially considering the weather. We had a couple players from Ohio, several from Wisconsin and a few from Sault, Ont. I’m real pleased we got kids from all over. It’s better competition for the local kids, and it helps them get better.”

A youth league may be forming this fall at Crazy Joe’s Pool Hall.

“We’re shooting for the next school year,” said league organizer Brad Breault. “If enough interest is shown, league matches will take place each Sunday. Kids will be able to practice after school one day each week and gain some experience.”

For more information contact Breault (906-553-2109).

Age 8-12 — 1, Dalton Nelson, Lisbon, Wis.; 2, Nora Parker, Stephenson; 3, Isaiah Miller, Manistique.

Age 13-16 — 1, Kaden Hillman, New London, Wis.; 2, Eli Englund, Escanaba; 3, James Joseph, Hermansville. Top female, Brianna Discher, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Age 17-20 — 1, Dominick LaValley, Kingsford; 2, Brody Hillman, New London, Wis; 3, Lukas Starbenz, Necedah, Wis.


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