NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – The final day of the EYBL Finals at Peach Jam saw just four games played, but they were all big and drew big crowds. Three were nationally televised. All four lived up to their billing as a whole, although there was a bizarre ending.
The day started with two semifinal games, which saw Team Penny and the Playaz advance, the latter in a hard-fought local rivalry matchup. Team Penny had five players score in double figures to knock off Boo Williams, while the Playaz, who didn’t even qualify for this event a year ago, had to hold off a late charge by Team Scan.
Next up was the final in the Sweet 16. Arkansas-based Wings Elite used a good start to hold a 40-29 lead at the half, but Team Final gradually cut into that lead. Eventually, regulation wasn’t enough to settle it, but Wings Elite took over early in the extra session en route to a 79-75 win. Mitchell Smith (6’10” Jr. C, Van Buren (AR) High) had the big game with 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead four double-digit scorers for the winners, spoiling a fine 30-point, six-assist outing from Tony Carr (6’2″ Jr. SG, Philadelphia (PA) Roman Catholic HS) of Team Final.
That set the stage for the championship game, featuring Team Penny in their second straight final four appearance and the Playaz. The Playaz did a lot of what Team Penny had done to opponents – ruled the boards and take advantage of turnovers – and had an 11-point halftime lead. But much like Team Final in the prior game, Team Penny rallied and eventually took the lead with about seven minutes left. They lost it quickly, but were right there the rest of the way.
The game was still tied at 83 in the final minute. Team Penny had a chance to go ahead after a timeout, but missed and the ball was loose, picked up by Playaz guard Elijah Cain. After the whistle, Cain and Team Penny’s Dillon Mitchell got tangled up, and Mitchell was whistled for a technical foul with 3.8 seconds left that stunned just about everyone in the crowd. The Playaz made both free throws, then inbounded the ball and ran out the final seconds to win it 85-83.
Isaiah Briscoe (6’3″ Sr. PG-SG, Union (NJ) Roselle Catholic HS), who has had a great spring and summer, led five Playaz in double figures with 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, including the two deciding free throws. Temple Gibbs Jr. (6’2″ Jr. PG, Scotch Plains (NJ) Seton Hall Prep) added 19 points and Moustapha Diagne (6’9″ Sr. PF, Newton (NJ) Pope John Sparta HS) had 16 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots.
For Team Penny, Florida commit Kevaughn Allen (6’3″ Sr. SG, Little Rock (AR) North Little Rock HS) capped a great weekend with 22 points, and Memphis commit Keelon Lawson (6’7″ Sr. SF, Memphis (TN) Hamilton HS) added 20 to go along with 10 rebounds and eight assists.
Now, a look at a few players who stood out on this final day.
Tony Carr (6’2″ Jr. SG, Philadelphia (PA) Roman Catholic HS) An athletic guard, he didn’t have great shooting numbers (6-18) on Sunday but was excellent in how he got to the foul line. He came up big the night before in a come-from-behind win, and finished often in traffic in the final while also passing well.
Moustapha Diagne (6’9″ Sr. PF, Newton (NJ) Pope John Sparta HS) In the championship game, he had 12 rebounds at halftime. A well-built post player, he moves well inside, showed some good moves, and was all over the glass as he battled the entire time.
Cheick Diallo (6’9″ Sr. PF-C, Centereach (NY) Our Savior New American School) The big man is looking better all the time and showing more to his game, and he was so effective on Sunday that they rode him in the second half instead of Thomas Bryant. He was very active on the boards, hauling down 11 to go with his 13 points, ran the floor well, drew fouls and made some nice outlet passes.
Trevon Duval (6’2″ So. PG, New Castle (DE) St. Benedict’s) A fine reserve on the championship team, he has a good body and gave them a big boost. He was excellent in transition, whether leading or finishing, and showed a nice overall passing touch in addition to finishing.
Temple Gibbs, Jr. (6’2″ Jr. PG, Scotch Plains (NJ) Seton Hall Prep) If you have seen his older brothers, you have an idea of what to expect. Still, it’s enjoyable to watch him play, as he knows the game and is as tough as they come. Here, he even shined shooting the ball, including one three-pointer at a crucial juncture in the final.
Dillon Mitchell (6’0″ Jr. PG, Memphis (TN) White Station HS) He’ll be remembered here most for the technical foul at the end, and as such it’s easy to forget that he had five assists with just one turnover in the game. In all, he had a nice weekend here, as he’s a plus athlete with a good frame that can fill out more, passed well and finished very well when he got to the hoop.
Mitchell Smith (6’10” Jr. C, Van Buren (AR) High) Long and with a good frame, he did a lot of his work by being active, especially running the floor. He got a lot of chances in transition, and in the halfcourt he showed a jump hook. In overtime, he also had a big steal to go with the double-double he posted.
Paul Washington, Jr. (6’8″ So. PF, Memphis (TN) Longstar HS) He gets overshadowed by the Lawson brothers and others on his team, but he showed a glimpse of what he can do nonetheless, including 14 points on 7-9 shooting, eight rebounds and three blocked shots in the final. Not a baby physically, he battled inside, finished when he got some chances, got some tough inside baskets including stickbacks and was a fine complement all the way through.
Kenny Williams (6’3″ Sr. SG, Chesterfield (VA) L.C. Bird HS) This lanky guard didn’t do much more than shoot, but that’s a good talent to have and he did it well on Sunday as he was 2-4 from long range and added two assists. He hit a couple in an earlier pool game as well, and on this team that’s his primary role.
Payton Willis (6’4″ Jr. SG, Fayetteville (AR) High) He has a little length and his body has a ways to go, so there’s something to look forward to besides the good shooting ability he showed here. He went for 15 points in the championship game, going 3-4 from long range, and added four assists.