The Ryan Ongo Memorial 8-Ball was created in 2010 in memory of the young Cape Breton man who passed away suddenly in December of 2009 at the age of 19. The tournament was created by those closest to him, initially to raise money for his family, and to pay tribute to their friend who enjoyed playing pool. Today, in addition to being a marquee event on the Nova Scotia billiard calendar, the annual tournament also raises money for a Scholarship fund in the name of Ryan Ongo, which benefits students at Sydney Academy High School.
The tournament is unique in that it appeals to serious pool players from all over the Atlantic provinces, yet also attracts a number of players who do not regularly play tournament pool, but support the efforts to memorialize Ryan Ongo. In that light, entry fees are staggered based on ability. Everyone is entered in the main event, plus there is an additional tournament to determine a women’s champion. To cater to the wide audience of skill, there is a secondary event for C & D players only.
The 2017 event was hosted by Dooly’s Sydney over Feb 11-12. 86 players took part in the main event, which was sponsored by the Atlantic 9-Ball Tour. The winner was guaranteed $1000. The finals featured two local players who had each won the tournament before. Andrew Simon of Eskasoni, NS, had won the title in 2012. He faced Bill MacPherson of Sydney River,NS, a former multiple time champion of the event. This year, MacPherson was able to overcome Simon for his 4th Ongo title, having also won in 2015, 2013, and 2011. Chris Dempsey of Moncton, NB, last year’s champion, was 3rd. Peter Kabatay of Membertou, NS excelled his way to 4th place. 5th-6th was held down by Ryan Kendall and Richard Young. Mike Basque and Wekatesk Augustine finished in 7th-8th.
The Women’s Division was won by Janet Ritcey of Halifax, having to win from the B-Side over Monette McCue, also of Halifax, in the final. Rachel Gould of Eskasoni placed 3rd, with Janette Ball, Halifax, in 4th. Ryan Nagy of Glace Bay won the Second Chance event.
As always, the weekend was a job well done by organizers Ryan Kendall, John Phalen, and Derek Corbett.