Turns out the regular season wasn’t lying. The final four are indeed the four best teams from the regular season. Who will take home the crown?
Easy Money (9-0) vs. 4. The Soldiers (6-3)
The Summer season’s only undefeated team continues their powerful journey to the Championship Game. Easy Money strives off of their starpower. They have three of the league’s most impactful players in their starting lineup. Brandon Barkley is the swiss army man who can play anywhere from the two to the five. Kevin Emesiani’s 11.5 rebounds per game is third in the league and he is far and away the Ultimate Hoops Plano blocks leader with 2.3 a game.
Then there’s Benny Valentine, the team’s point guard and probably their most important player. Valentine averages an impressive 5.5 assists a game (second in the league) and an overly impressive 2.6 steals a game, which is tied for first with Torch’s Imtisal Agha. However, it’s scoring where Valentine proves to be an unstoppable weapon. He’s third in the league with 29.4 PPG and does it on fewer shots than the two players ranked above him.
Barkley’s versatility is reflected in 39.6 PRA (Points + Rebounds + Assists) which ties him for second in the league with Agha’s Torch teammate Kreston Martin.Valentine himself has a 38.6 PRA.
The Soldiers thrive off a more balanced attack with a little more depth than their Semi-Final opposition. Their first and probably most important task will be having five players at tipoff. After that, it’s shooting and rebounding.
Most of that shooting comes from their backcourt, employed by the stylings of Paul Starr and the headband wearing Brandon Long. Starr scores 19.3 PPG and does it with the 3-ball. He takes 10.8 a game and makes 4.7 (43%). Long makes 2.3 a game but the team will need to utilize the long ball in more ways than these two.
Rebounding is not an issue with these team, with big men Jon Hunt, Jesse Wilson and Terrence Thomas. Swingman Johntel Franklin also averages 7.1 rebounds a game and has had two double-digit rebound games this year with a season high of 14.
Will Haynes is averaging 24.9 points and 10.5 rebounds. He’ll be in charge of carrying The Soldiers, but it will be all about three-point shooting to give Easy Money their first loss of the Summer.
2. Getting Older (7-2) vs. 3. Contract Killers (7-2)
The defending champs lost just twice this season. Once to the undefeated one seed Easy Money and were upset in week one by these very Contract Killers. This game has a Championship appearance on the line, but also serves as a nice redemption opportunity for Getting Older.
Getting Older experienced something a little unusual this season: roster turnover. The league’s most chemistry filled squad may have had some adjusting to do, but blame won’t be put on anyone but themselves from these guys. It’s the usual sweet, patient, free and easy offensive style that fuels this team and it’s been everywhere to be found recently.
Four Getting Older players (Brian Graham, Jeramiah Hopkins, Donte Smith and Ben Pemberton) all average over 16 points a game with Gahan leading at 18.7. Gahan has been on fire of late and GOB hasn’t played any close games as a result. Bryant Nash is seventh in the league with 9.8 rebounds every Thursday.
Point guard Cage Uno Dos always makes sure to get his assists and leads the league with 6.7 a game. The next closest is a full assist behind him. Cage also turns the ball over just once a game for a sparkling ratio.
Similar to The Soldiers, a big driving factor for Getting Older is three point shooting. But they’re the most reliable team in the league here and it’s not too much of a worry.
The Contract Killers shot a ridiculous 15-28 (54%) from downtown in their week one upset. Repeating that seems impossible but they did it once already. Micah Jordan was 6-8 and Brett Williams was 5-11. They’ll have to shoot lights out to beat Getting Older, who are a different team come playoff time, which doesn’t bode well for Contract Killers. Led by the point guard Williams, who scores 20.1 PPG (14th in the league) and is the aforementioned second place assist holder behind Kenneth Cage (5.6), as well as Jordan and the freakishly athletic Alec Harris.
Sometimes the rotation can be a problem, deciding whether minutes go to Bill Ioannides or Cornelius Metili, for example. These things have to be managed carefully because one run for Getting Older will likely be all she wrote.
One more thing that could tip the scales would be the presence of former Maryland National Champion Mike Grinnon. Grinnon has played only one game so far this season but made quite the impression in his sole appearance. In week six, he had 32 points on 14-24 shooting (58%) that included 3-6 from three. He also had 15 rebounds (8 offensive) and three assists.
Frankly, he’s needed for this one, but we’ll see if he can make the trip.
The undefeated season prevails to the title match vs. Getting Older, but the defending champs win a consecutive title in a close one.