The Texas Titans' three-day stay in North Augusta, South Carolina, at the annual Nike Peach Jam provided all manner of closely contested outcomes, standout performances and late-game heroics.
While all three helped the Titans advance into the bracket portion of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League finals, the Metroplex-based AAU basketball club went no further than the quarterfinals Saturday evening. The Titans saw their 2014 EYBL campaign come to a close after going 4-2 overall at the Peach Jam, capped by a 66-59 loss to Playaz Basketball Club (New Jersey).
The Titans feature several Plano-area basketball standouts, including Plano West seniors-to-be D.J. Hogg, Tyler Davis, Mickey Mitchell, Soso Jamabo, Plano East senior-to-be Isaac Asrat and Prestonwood Christian Academy senior-to-be Djery Baptiste.
The locals contributed in a myriad of ways throughout the tournament, but no one found a recourse to counter the Playaz trio of Isaiah Briscoe (18 points, nine rebounds), Temple Gibbs (14 points) and Shakur Juiston (16 points). Although Texas limited Gibbs to just 2-of-11 from the field, the point guard made up for it by draining 9-of-11 from the line, including several makes late to help Playaz pull away after leading, 56-54, with just over a minute remaining.
The Titans had several opportunities to answer, but after a tournament's worth of timely heroics in crunch time, there were none to be had for Texas. Part of the troubles came courtesy of an imbalanced scoring effort, as Hogg (27 points, five 3-pointers) and Davis (20 points, 10 rebounds) were the only two Titans to eclipse double figures and accounted for all but 12 of Texas' points.
Titans survive manic pool play round
Texas earned the opportunity to play Saturday evening after emerging as one of the top two teams in Pool D at 4-1.
That five-game stretch produced its share of dramatics, with three of the Titans pool games decided by a total of five points.
The team's pool play finale didn't exactly fit that bill however, as Texas cruised into the quarterfinals following a 70-48 over Wings Elite (Arkansas) Saturday afternoon that granted the winner a spot in bracket play.
The Titans led by double figures for the majority of contest and pulled away for good midway through the second half when a collision between Mitchell and Wings standout Malik Monk led to tempers flaring on the Wings bench. Three technical fouls were dealt the way of the Arkansas club, including the ejection of head coach Wes Swift, and the Titans were granted a rare six technical free throws, of which Asrat went 5-of-6 for a 47-30 lead.
Wings had its own troubles prior to the dust-up, primarily in getting its standout junior-to-be, Monk, into a rhythm. Already with a 40-point game under his belt during the tournament, Monk was limited to 12 points on 3-of-20 shooting thanks to Jamabo's defense.
The nationally heralded running back chipped in big one game prior as well, draining two free throws in the waning moments of a 63-62 win Friday evening over the Southern Stampede (Georgia) to keep the Titans' bracket play hopes alive.
Tyler Davis, on being bailed out by Soso Jamabo's two FTs after missing two of his own: "I'm buying dinner tonight. Steak, lobster, shrimp."— The EYBL Circuit (@D1Circuit) July 18, 2014
His teammates, both club and high school, contributed plenty along the way as well. Hogg strung together two of the top back-to-back shooting performances of any player competing at the Peach Jam on Thursday. The sharpshooter began the tournament scoring 26 and 28 points, respectively, and made a combined 12 3-pointers in wins over the Jackson Tigers (Mississippi, 66-54) and the New York Lightning (64-63).
The victory over New York was particularly notable, as the Titans erased a 19-point deficit in the second half. Hogg and Mitchell contributed to the comeback effort, with the latter converting a two-handed dunk with 10 seconds remaining for the 64-63 lead.
Titans F Mickey Mitchell after the comeback win over NYL: "People don't realize what it takes back to come back from the injuries I've had."— The EYBL Circuit (@D1Circuit) July 18, 2014
Davis got in on the action with a 36-point, 13-rebound showing Friday morning against Team Penny (Tennessee) in what was Texas' lone pool setback in an 85-82 loss.
Team Penny was among the four EYBL semifinalists on Sunday, along with Playaz, Boo Williams (Virginia) and Team SCAN (New York).