Ivan Rabb, the nation’s top-ranked player according to ESPN, and the Oakland Soldiers mounted a valiant comeback in the second half that ultimately fell short as they were eliminated from the EYBL Nike Peach Jam, falling to Boo Williams 64-53 in the quarterfinals Saturday.
A three-point lead for Boo Williams grew to 10 during the first four minutes of the second half. The Soldiers cut the lead to one with 2:28 to play in the game before Boo Williams used a 13-3 run finish the game.
Rabb had a subpar game, totaling only four points and five rebounds. He said he wouldn’t pass the blame onto anyone but himself for the loss.
“I can’t speak for everybody else, but I didn’t get it done inside. I didn’t do enough,” he said. “I wasn’t getting to my spots to get the ball and when I did, I was forcing them up.”
Rabb said he has to rely on his instincts more if he is to live up the billing of being the country’s top player.
“I have to stop thinking and just play the game,” Rabb said. “Even though I’ve played well the past few games, I’ve been thinking way too much.”
Boo Williams, who has led his program for 32 years, said the team knew it would have its hands full dealing with Rabb.
“It was a tough game, but we knew that it would be coming in,” Williams said. “It was a big win for us. When you get to this stage, there are no easy outs for you. Moving forward we have to continue to win as a team. No one player will win you the tournament.”
Boo Williams guard Christopher Clarke, who had 15 points and nine rebounds, said the team is full of confidence after beating one of the top teams left in the tournament.
“We have a lot of great big men on this team. We just wanted to be competitive and match his energy,” he said. “We now know that we can compete with great players as well as great teams. Personally knowng that I can compete on this stage gives me great confidence.”