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DCC 1-P: Shane Goes Two for Two
Jan 26, 2012, 10:50 PM

ELIZABETH, Ind. -- As far as pool players are concerned, Shane Van Boening isn't the most boisterous of the bunch. So when it comes to one-pocket, a discipline that isn't exactly a regular part of his game, the soft-spoken 28-year-old had to laugh after polishing off his second consecutive victory in the Derby City Classic's one-pocket division.

"I really haven't played it since last year," he said, shortly after ousting Joey Gray in the final. "But I pick it up. I can learn from just watching."

And just the same, Van Boening wouldn't want to admit it, but what he lacks in experience, he can compensate nicely with a boatload of skill and a pedal-to-the-metal aggressive approach. For example, in the 11th round, Van Boening faced Brandon Shuff, who had just given him his first loss in the prior round. Down 2-1 in the race to 3, Van Boening was just one ball from elimination, with Shuff collecting the first seven. But the lanky South Dakotan found the slightest opening and quickly cleared the remaining eight balls. He then won a defensive struggle in the fifth game for the gripping 3-2 win.

With a surprisingly easy 3-0 over Efren Reyes, Van Boening was just a match away from defending his title. There, he'd face Joey Gray, a relatively unknown player who was the last remaining unbeaten player before losing to Reyes in the ninth round. A 25-year-old from Oklahoma City, Gray is a one-hole specialist who has collected a number of titles on the Midwest Tour. Stringing together wins in Derby City, Gray quickly made a name for himself. While Van Boening and Reyes battled on the TV table in the Accu-Stats arena, he matched up with Darren Appleton on a satellite table. Controlling the match from the onset, Gray clinched his spot in the final, 3-1.

"This is what I've been dreaming about since I was 10," he said. "I'm excited to be in the final. I just have to stay relaxed and play one-pocket."

If nerves were an issue for the untested hopeful, he didn't show it in the final's first game. Van Boening erred on a thin cut, leaving an opening for Gray. He quickly rattled off seven balls to claim the first game, 8-3. But that's when things went sour. He ceded a bit of control on his break, leaving a ball just inches from Van Boening's pocket. A lengthy defensive struggle was then broken when Van Boening drilled a table-length bank and got out to even the set.

Gray repeatedly tried to suffocate the ultra-offensive-minded Van Boening. But in the end, the defending Master of the Table had too much. Van Boening took the next two racks to close out the final, 3-1.

With a second-place finish in banks and the one-pocket title, Van Boening has a commanding lead in this year's all-around points race. He has a combined 220 points through the first two events, with the 9-ball division just two rounds into play. Shuff is second with 140, meaning Van Boening could clinch the $20,000 win with a respectable finish in 9-ball.

"I'm excited knowing where I am," Van Boening. "Coming here, my goal was to win the all-around again. It's not over yet, but I'm looking forward to what's going to happen over the next few days."