Thursday, June 11, 2015

Class of 2020 NYBL Championship – Is Going Going Back Back to Cali

The Oakland Soldiers returned to the NYBL for the 2015 season with some unfinished business. After a sensational 2014 campaign that included the realization of dream in winning the AAU National Championship in magical fashion; knocking down a buzzer beater from half court as time expired. There still remained a goal unattained, unrealized, unforgiven.

As one of the premier teams in the country the last two years – the Soldiers were up ended in the 2014 Final Four; failing to make the championship game. They came into the league this year determined to right this wrong and claim the crown that had to this point averted them.

The challenged? They would have to do the aforementioned with a target square on their backs – meaning they would face the opposition’s best effort each time out. They opened the season and first two sessions taking on all challengers passing all test and sitting atop the standings at 10-0. After accepting 5 losses after missing session 3 the Soldiers went into championship weekend without concern for seeding.

Coming in as a 6th seed their focused effort was apparent out the gate as they dominated their first round opponent DC United out of Canada barely breaking a sweat. Their 2nd round opponent 023 Feet hung around for a while but couldn’t with stand the up-tempo transition style and too eventually wilted.

Moving into the evening; things became immediately tougher as the Soldiers stepped onto the court to face the top seeded Worldwide Wildcats. The game started with the Soldiers opening on a 9-2 run but Worldwide battled back and what turned out to be a hotly contested contest. The Soldiers withstood an all-world performance from Dwon Odom who dropped 30-points in the contest to advance with a 65-61 victory placing them in Sundays Final 4 – one game away from where they had sought to be since the same time a year ago.

Standing in their was the 3rd Seeded Mid-Ohio Pumas who fought as hard as they could but after getting down early; could never get within serious striking distance. The Soldiers spaced and spread the floor down the stretch used clock and simply wouldn’t allow the Pumas to get close down the stretch.

The championship stage was set with the game pundits had waited all year to see; Soldiers v Team Melo/Terror Squad. The floor was laden with a proverbial who’s who of top players in the 2020 class. Prior to tip the all-world Soldier Kyrie Walker advised to anyone wondering; they he was the best and most talented player on the floor. In route to a 19-point, 9- assist Co-MVP effort he made a viable claim. The other Co-MVP and current top player in the country Shemar Marrow, playing in his home state, also contributed with a double figure effort of his own while battling first half foul trouble. The tandem of Walker & Marrow along with the Soldiers interior weapon Kendall Munson were the clear difference makers the entire season and in the championship run.

In the chip The Soldiers and Team Melo exchanged blows ending the first quarter tied at 19-19. The open the second half knotting the game at 33, Oakland shifted gears, went on a 9-0 run taking a 42-33 lead and closed out the 3rd up 12-points. Melo would get any closer as the Soldiers took care of some old business from 2014 claiming their first ever NYBL National Championship.
2nd half was more of the same, as the Soldiers took a 33-30 lead into the half. After a trey ball from the Terror Squad to the

With the one-two punch of Co-MVPs Kyrie Walker and Shemar Marrow and the emergence of interior presence Kendall Munson the Soldiers have their big 3 and are poised for continued success in the future – with mission accomplished in 2015 will the Soldiers be poised for a repeat in 2016? Only time will tell, for now congratulations to the Soldiers on mission accomplished and a fantastic championship run.

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