Log In

Reset Password

Lansford pool team competes in Vegas

Bright lights.

Big city.

A chance to hit the jackpot on perhaps the grandest stage of its sport.

All of that and more was at stake when the Make It Weird 9-ball pool team recently competed in the 9-Ball World Championship APA Tournament held at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.

Sponsored by Halftime Bar and Grill At The Zoo in Lansford, the team is comprised of Zack Lakitsky, captain, Alexandria Hutta, Craig Schneider, Lisa Schneider, Suzanne Lakitsky, Jack Maurey, and Ryan Knappenberger.

9-ball, not 8-ball

Almost everyone is familiar with the concept of 8-ball.

But, 9-ball, perhaps not quite so much.

The games require totally different strategies.

In 8-ball, the objective is to hit either the striped or solid-colored balls, followed by the 8-ball.

Whereas in 9-ball, a pool shooter must hit the balls in numerical order, followed by the 9-ball, or try a combination shot that knocks the lowest-numbered object ball into the 9-ball and pockets the latter.

Making the Cut

Make It Weird qualified for Vegas after it won the LTC Tournament in the Poconos.

“Almost didn’t believe it; didn’t seem real,” Zack said. “Been trying for years.”

Suzanne echoed her son’s sentiments.

“When we won the LTC Tournament in the Poconos, it was unbelievable,” Suzanne said. “The whole team was thrilled; we worked very hard for that all season.”

Overall, it placed 129th out of 835 teams at Vegas.

While it didn’t necessarily hit the big one, the team turned in a solid showing, nonetheless.

Zack explained what it was like to perform under such a high-pressure situation.

“It was very stressful knowing you can’t make any mistakes, and doing your best not to let your team down,” Zack said.

A hobby turned passion

Suzanne, who has been shooting pool for about 25 years, said she only started shooting in the APA league about five years ago.

Meanwhile, Zack said he’s been shooting pool for just five years.

“I love the mental aspect of it; it requires no physical ability and all boils down to wits,” he said. “Very similar to chess, pool is all about reading your opponent, and being able to use their play against them.”

Zack pinpointed what he enjoys most about the sport.

“Pool is played in the mind, and not on the table, and it’s truly addicting,” he said. “It’s my true passion, borderline obsession!

It turns out that borderline obsession has served the Make It Weird pool team rather well.

The knowledge gained from their trip to Vegas proved invaluable.

It’s skill - combined with a little bit of luck - could one day catapult the team to the next level.

But for now, it can take solace in the fact that it achieved a goal realized by only a select few.

And that fact alone makes it anything but weird.

The Make It Weird 9-ball pool team sponsored by Halftime Bar and Grill At The Zoo in Lansford recently competed in the 9-Ball World Championship APA Tournament held at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. Pictured, at left, are Zack Lakitsky, captain, Suzanne Lakitsky, Ryan Knappenberger, Alex Hutta and Craig Schneider. Missing from the photo are Jack Maurey and Lisa Schneider. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS