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Peach Jam Championship Preview: Takeover vs. Soldiers

07/16/2017, 9:15am EDT
By Alec Kinsky

The 2017 Peach Jam Championship game is upon us, and if you predicted this matchup, you would probably be the only one.

Team Takeover (DC) and the Oakland Soldiers (CA) will play in Sunday's Peach Jam Title game on ESPNU at 2:00 PM EST, each taking very unique routes to the championship game.

The most unique part about the matchup? The winner will be the first 2-time EYBL Peach Jam Champions.

Team Takeover (16-6) is fresh off one of the best comebacks in Peach Jam history, rallying from 13 points down with three and a half minutes to go to knock off Bradley Beal Elite, who had won 14 straight coming into the game.

Takeover struggled with BBE's rotation for the majority of the contest, but with under four minutes to go, the momentum completely shifted. Why? Defense and intensity. 

Jalen Smith had four huge buckets down the stretch, and the TTO defense played their best four minutes of their season, forcing a number of turnovers during the massive comeback.

Juniors Xavier Johnson, Myles Dread, Brandon Slater and Tre Wood make up one of the top defensive backcourts in the country, proving their worth during their entire pool play run. The set of guards are well-disciplined, well-coached and only knows how to play at one level; hard as hell. That came into full effect during the final couple minute against BBE.

Smith is considered their go-to-guy, especially in the paint, but Takeover can beat you in a variety of different fashions. It really depends on who is feeling it, and head coach Keith Stevens usually goes with the hot-hand.

The Soldiers can also beat you in a number of different fashions, but that's about where the similarities end between the two squads.

The Soldiers are arguably the biggest surprise team in Peach Jam history, having to rally in session four to even qualify for the field in North Augusta. They managed a 9-7 finish after a 4-0 showing in Los Angeles, and the momentum they gained in Southern California clearly had some staying power.

The Soldiers went 3-2 in pool play, earning their semifinal berth after narrowly knocking off the PSA Cardinals in the quarterfinals. In the semis, Oakland jumped on favorite Boo Williams from the tip. The Soldiers led by 8-12 points throughout the game, holding off a Boo Williams flurry in the games closing minutes.

The biggest standout for the Soldiers has been point guard James Akinjo. The 6-foot-1 guard enjoyed a strong EYBL regular season, but has taken his game to a completely different level in North Augusta. Akinjo dropped 32 in the 91-71 quarterfinal win over E1T1, and followed it up with another strong performance against Zion Harmon and Boo.

Big men Taeshon Cherry and Amadou Sow have been absolute horses in the frontcourt, and will undoubtedly provide a matchup issue for Takeover. These two rarely leave the court in the Soldiers 7-8 man rotation, and they'll need to be on their game in order to slow down Smith and fellow TTO bigs Bryce Golden and Hunter Dickinson.

Soldiers point guard Kihei Clark (UC-Davis commit) has played his best basketball of his game through seven Peach Jam games, and a big performance from him would go a long ways against TTO.

Both squads trot out relatively thin rotations, so foul trouble could realistically become an issue, especially with the way this tournament has been officiated. 

Also, both enter the title matchup red-hot; the Soldiers have won eight of their past 10, while Takeover has won 13 of their past 15.

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Tag(s): Circuit Board  17U NIKE EYBL  Team Takeover (DC)  Oakland Soldiers (CA)  Division D