Huly's Hooligans win national tourney

Saturday, September 1, 2001

What better place to become a big winner than in a Las Vegas casino?

Eight area residents did just that, but they were not playing games of chance at the Riviera Hotel & Casino. Instead, they were playing a game of skill -- pool.

The group of eight, known as Huly's Hooligans, placed first in the 2001 Camel 8-Ball National Team Championships-Open Division, held Aug. 20-25.

Huly's Hooligans, captained by Harold Graviett of Vanduser, Mo., was the last team standing from over 500 teams competing in Las Vegas. The field was comprised of regional qualifiers from around the United States and Canada. The team won the $25,000 first prize and a trophy too big to haul on the plane.

"We didn't expect to win," said Graviett. "We wanted to make a good showing and things just fell into place for us."

A lot of balls also fell into pockets.

Huly's Hooligans, which placed 17th in the national tournament two years ago, compiled a 6-0 record in bracket play to reach the final 16.

After winning its round of 16 and quarterfinal matches, Huly's Hooligans saw an already serious competition step up another level. The venue was changed, going from a room of 90 tables to a high-stakes room with just two tables and seats for a gallery.

"We were in a room all by ourselves where the pros play," said Graviett. "The atmosphere was unbelievable. There were 500-600 people watching you. It was just like being a professional. It was just a once in a lifetime dream."

The matches were also shown live on the Internet.

The team of eight excelled under the pressure, winning its final two matches by 3-0 scores. Christopher Columbus of Hartford, Conn., was the semifinal victim while The Wild Cards of Las Vegas succumbed in the championship match.

"It was a complete team effort," said Graviett.

He said the team had only once close match in Las Vegas. With her team tied 2-2 in the second match of the tournament, Linda Hodges of Cape Girardeau stepped up and won her game. Team members also included Graviett's wife, Donna, and son, Timothy Clay Graviett, along with L.B. Perry (Cape Girardeau), Ron Bowers (Cape Girardeau), Gerald Pobst (Sikeston, Mo.) and Mike Landeros (Chaffee, Mo.).

Team members split the first-place money.

"The money was fine," said Graviett, "but the trophy was the goal -- just to win first place."

The trophy is being shipped to Cape Girardeau where it will be on display at The Billiard Center.

Graviett said the hardest part to the victory was qualifying for the national tournament. The team had to win its Thursday night league at The Billiard Center to qualify for the regional tournament, held at A.C. Brase Arena. Of the 64 teams competing at the regional, only four teams qualified for the national tournament. Also qualifying from the area were The Breakaways, Hot Shots and Buck's Renegades.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: