Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Everybody into the pool
8-ball tourney supports CASA of Lancaster County Everybody into the pool BY TOM KNAPP, Staff Writer
Smoke hung heavy in the air and Pat Benatar was singing loudly over the speakers Sunday afternoon as the loud crack of ball on ball announced the start of the next game in the tournament.
Larry Szwarzkowski of Wyomissing was contending with Lancaster favorite Clint "Tiny" Murray for the right to advance to the finals of the annual Harry Hutchinson-Jack Byerly Charity 8-Ball Tournament at the Riverside Camping Association on Strawberry Street.
Szwarzkowski fell to Murray's relentless control of the table and went away satisfied with a $150 prize for fourth place. Murray advanced to face Jason Kochenaur of Carlisle.
It was a hard-fought match, with the players tying at three games each before Murray again cleared the table and sent Kochenaur home with a $250 prize. Murray met his final opponent of the day: Derek Schwager of Pottstown.
But cheers from the crowd for the hometown favorite weren't enough to carry the day. Schwager won four games to Murray's two, winning $580. Murray, in second place, won $380.
Bob Mullen, president of the Lancaster County 8-Ball League, said the festivities began with an "8 and under" tournament, which refers to ranking, not age, on Thursday; a ladies tourney on Friday; and the main event Saturday and Sunday.
All told, he said, more than 1,400 games were played at Riverside this weekend, with 73 competitors sharing 10 pool tables at the start of the main event. By Sunday afternoon, they were down to the final few on a single table.
A game, he said, can last anywhere from 90 seconds to 30 minutes.
"It all depends on how the balls break," Mullen explained. "Pool's a funny game."
The charity fundraiser has been supporting CASA of Lancaster County for the past few years, Mullen said. They expect to raise at least as much as last year, he said, when CASA received more than $6,000 from a combination of admission fees, sponsorships and drawings.
Riverside annually donates the room's use for the weekend event, Mullen said.
CASA -- Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children -- is a nonprofit organization that receives no public funds, according to executive director Jessica Laspino.
Money from the 8-Ball tourney "goes 100 percent toward the program" and will pay for community awareness, recruitment and training of volunteers, she said.
"We're relatively new here in Lancaster," Laspino said. "To have the Lancaster County 8-Ball League devoting this much time and effort into this is integral to our operations."
CASA, she noted, has more than 70 volunteer advocates and reached more than 100 children in need last year. There are, however, more than 600 children who could use CASA's services, she said.
"We're constantly trying to grow the program."