Peggy Borden didn't think her billiards team still would be together, let alone be attending an international team competition.
But calmer heads prevailed and Borden's "Breaking Bad" team from Shooters Sports Bar and Grill in Severna Park is intact and gearing up for the the Bud Light Amateur International Team Championships slated for Aug. 26-30 at the Mirage in Las Vegas, Nev.
"There was fighting among the team, and we almost split up," Borden explained. "I told them I didn't want them to get mad at me, but if they didn't like the what I was doing [as captain], not to come. Now, everything is better and we're going to Las Vegas. I know we're going, but I don't think it's going to hit me until we get there."
After finishing second in session play last fall, Breaking Bad earned an automatic wild-card berth in the Distributor's Cup because the team that finished first in session play already had qualified. In June, the six-member team traveled to the Distributor Cup playoffs at the Green Room in Baltimore where it was among 280 teams that competed for the coveted six spots in Las Vegas.
Breaking Bad drew a bye in the first round when the team it was to face failed to show, and it gained momentum into the later round, defeating another local team, the Brass Rail of Pasadena, 3-1, in the finals.
"I was expecting to make it to the Green Room, but I didn't think we would win there," said Marty Ladika of Lake Shore. "Everything just worked out perfect. The first three shooters usually won the match, and the next two shooters didn't even have to shoot. Everyone just clicked together and got along real well."
Paul Abel, a 1978 graduate of Severna Park High, is glad the feuding has subsided and applauds Borden for keeping the team focused.
"Due to the circumstances with the team at the beginning, it's very surprising how far we've gotten," said Abel, 34. "The team has really come together and Peggy couldn't have done a better job in matching people up in the tournaments.
"The talent, the camaraderie of the players, and a little luck, is what helped us produce a winning team."
To do well in the 392-team field in Las Vegas, Breaking Bad must not only stay together, but play together. Each team is restricted to a handicap of 23, with individual handicaps ranging on a scale from 2 to 7 (7 being the best).
If the team can make it through the first 10 rounds of the double-elimination tournament with fewer than two losses, it would advance to the playoff round where it could get a piece of the $250,000 purse.
Karl Schenkelberg, a 5-handicap and a resident of Pasadena, said that as a first-year member of the league, "I didn't expect to be in this position at this time. It was a dream that literally came true."
"We kind of jumped right to the top my first time in the league," said Schenkelberg, an equipment manager for Eastern Waste Industries in Beltsville.
"I'd like to see us go all the way, but I'm just happy, and honored, to be going. Even if it's for only one match."
Abel, one of three team members from Severna Park -- along with Doug Asplen and Bill Garvey -- said he'll be "all business" during the tournament, but is viewing the trip as a vacation.
"I'm just going out there to have a good time," said Abel. "I never expected we'd make it this far, but we have, and I'm just going to enjoy it."
Ladika, a 4-handicap, has set a somewhat higher goal.
"I'm going out there to win," he said. "I feel as though they have to beat me. I'm going to have fun, but my main goal is to win."