NORTH AUGUSTA – With a smile and a salute to the cameras, each Oakland Soldiers player took a bite out of a victory peach.
“It’s so good,” forward Jack Schwietz said.
The Oakland Soldiers sunk their teeth into a fourth consecutive opponent, beating Team Takeover 70-63 to claim the Nike Peach Jam title Sunday at Riverview Park Activities Center.
While many summer circuit teams focus on letting the star steal the show, Oakland Soldiers coach Marshall Collins turned the California-based program into a winner with college-style coaching.
That helped them overcome a rough start to the summer and another tough start at the Peach Jam. After starting 2-2 in pool play, they reeled off four wins in a row for the championship.
“I coached college for 11 years in (junior college), I played in state championship games, I coached in state championship games,” Collins said. “Nothing feels like this. I’m probably going to go home and cry.”
The Oakland Soldiers stuck to the scouting report by limiting Team Takeover’s inside opportunities, resulting in 34 percent shooting compared to Oakland Soldiers’ 55 percent. Team Takeover scored just 28 first-half points as the magic of three consecutive close wins ran dry in the finals.
“People were doubting us in the beginning, but we knew in the back of our heads that were going to win it from the start,” guard Kihei Clark said. “It just built up. We kept the momentum rolling and we took it over.”
Clark led the Oakland Soldiers with 18 points. Taeshon Cherry added 13 points, nine rebounds and three assists, and Amadou Sow chipped in 10 points and four boards.
After starting with a 13-6 lead, consecutive baskets from Mason Forbes gave the Oakland Soldiers their first double-digit advantage at 22-12. The run was capped at 25-12, but they continued to build the lead and reached a 20-point margin at 41-21 with 1:30 left in the first half.
The lead grew to 61-40 with 4:20 left after a dunk from Sow, and the Oakland Soldiers took the foot off the gas. Team Takeover responded by charging to within single digits with 22 seconds left, and they got as close as 68-63 after a four-point play from Brandon Slater.
A 3-point attempt from Team Takeover in the closing seconds bounced in and out to seal the Oakland Soldiers victory.
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216