July 10, 2013 - It's 7:30 and the alarm goes off on a Saturday morning as I prepare to watch the final preparations of Team Takeover and their pursuit of the EYBL Championship.
The Elite Youth Basketball League consist of 40 teams across the USA. There are 24 teams that will convene at the Riverview Park Activities Center in North Augusta, Georgia this week in search of the coveted Peach Jam championship.
The teams competing for the title are some of the top 17 and under teams in the country. Team Takeover from Washington, D.C. is one of the top teams in the league with a current record of 16-2.
Some of the other teams in the running are Houston Hoops (16-2), Indiana Spiece, Indianapolis (15-3), CP3 All Stars
Winston Salem, N.C. (15-3), Expression Elite Boston (13-5), Mean Streets Chicago (12-6), and Howard Pulley Minneapolis (12-6), along with others will be in the hunt for the 2013 title.
Team play will start on Thursday, July 11th. Takeover plays all their games on court one at the Activities Center.
Takeover will play California Supreme from Los Angeles at 9am. Takeover edged Supreme 67-65 in overtime earlier in the tournament. Dion Wiley led all scorers with 21 points in that hard fought contest. Tre Campbell chipped in with 13 points and five assists. At 6pm Takeover laces them up against All Red Ohio (Columbus).
Friday play resumes with a noon game against Team Texas Elite (Dallas). Takeover then faces BABC (Boston) at 9pm.
Saturday in the final day of pool play the Takeover will face EiTi (Orlando) at noon.
"We are working on our conditioning this morning" said head coach and CEO Keith Stevens. "We are looking at our offensive plays and will make some adjustments".
Takeover with a record of 16-2 is considered one of the favorites to advance in pool play. "We have to go down there and keep our focus and just play." said Stevens. "We gotta produce as a team. I have to cram in five or six practices before we play on Thursday. I need everyone to focus".
The one constant in Coach Stevens' program is there has always been a team concept. Some of the players to look for are the 6'4 Wiley (Potomac), Takeover's leading scorer averaging 14.1 pts. and 2.7 rebounds per game. Phil Booth (6'2", Mt. Saint Joseph) chips in 12.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per contest. James Palmer (6'4, St. John's) averages eight points per contest while 6'7 Marcus Derrickson tallies six points each time out. Campbell (St. John's and stands 6'1) leads the team in assists with 63 while averaging 6.5 points per game.
Leading the team in rebounding is at 6.6 each game is 6'8 Martin Geben (St. Maria Goretti); he also scores 7.5 points per contest. Quadree Smith (Paul VI), at 6'6 has been strong on the boards.
Takeover's 16 and under team will start play today, facing The Family (Detroit) at 8:30 am on court 2. Wednesday at 11:30 am they battle the St. Louis Eagles, while Thursday Houston Hoops is faced at 3pm.
Stevens reflected at the end of practice on two of his former players that were drafted at last weeks NBA Draft.
"Both players Victor Oladipo (who was the number two pick in the draft) and Erick Green (picked 46th) were focused and not highly rated. I am pleased with their developments; it's good to know hard work pays off", he said.
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