Sunday, July 20, 2014
The Playaz Basketball Club set a goal before the Peach Jam: to come away with the trophy at tournament end.
On Sunday, the New Jersey based team did just that, defeating Team Penny 85-83 in a back-and-forth affair held at Riverview Park Activities Center. The game featured nine lead changes and 10 ties, but the Playaz were able to come up with the win due to a technical foul in the final seconds, which gave them two free throws and the basketball. The foul, called on Team Penny’s Dillon Mitchell, occurred with 3.8 seconds on the clock with the game tied at 83.
“It was a back-and-forth game,” Jimmy Salmon, Playaz head coach, said. “We knew they weren’t going away, and I like tight games where we can get the ball to Isaiah (Briscoe) at the end. I think he’s the best guard in the country. He got a chance to prove that today.”
Briscoe led the Playaz with 20 points and seven assists. He also pulled down a team second-best 12 rebounds.
“I had to do whatever it took for my team to win,” Briscoe said. “We wanted this championship, so I did what my team needed me to do, from scoring to rebounding to finding the open man.”
Ranked as the 13th best player in the country, according to Rivals.com, Briscoe and his team came together to eclipse every other Playaz’s team in winning the Peach Jam.
“It means a lot; collectively, we came together and said this was our goal,” he said. “We didn’t want to go undefeated in the regular season, we wanted to win the Peach Jam. Everybody bought in and, as you can see, the results are what we wanted. With the lineage we’ve got with all of the NBA players that have come from here, it’s great.”
Elijah Cain, a guard for the Playaz, called winning the Peach Jam a “blessing.”
“This is probably going to be the biggest and best memory of my life; I’m in shock right now,” he said. “It means a whole lot. We’re the first Playaz team to reach the Elite 8, the Final 4 and we won the whole thing. We’re the best team in the country, we proved it. We were on a mission the whole season, and we proved it here at the Peach Jam.”
Cain called the tournament win a huge milestone for the Playaz program.
For the Playaz, winning the Nike Peach Jam gives them bragging rights over all other AAU teams.
“When you win the Nike Peach Jam, it means you’re the No. 1 team in the country,” Salmon said. “Simple as that.”
To get to the championship game, the Playaz Basketball Club had to first beat the Team SCAN Cardinals (N.Y.), which they did 65-55. In that game, Briscoe led all scorers with 18 points, though he was matched by the Cardinals’ Tyus Battle. Temple Gibbs Jr. had 13, and Moustapha Diagne had 11 points in the victory.
Team Penny took down Boo Williams (Va.) in their semifinal matchup, 77-68. K.J. Lawson led all scorers with 17 points, but it was a complete team effort with Kevaughn Allen (14), PJ Washington (11), Dillon Mitchell (11) and Donte Fitzpatrick (10) all getting to double-digits. Lawson had a double-double in the game, with a team-high 12 rebounds.
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for The North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.