Team Peake goes 4-0 at Las Vegas tournament

Members of the Team Peake 13-and-under Amateur Athletic Union boys’ basketball team pose with the championship trophy after capturing the Jam On It International Grand Finale tournament last month in Las Vegas. Members of the team are, back row: Sha’mar Austin, Collin Woolford, head coach Gary Gould, Nisim Hawkins, Amirr Coles and Mekhi Rogers; front row: Neil Gaines Jr, Malachi Miller, Shaun Moody, Kamm Green Jr. and Lane Steinbruck

Team Peake has always had a passion for basketball.

The chemistry between the 13-and-under Amateur Athletic Union boys’ team — comprised of players from Queen Anne’s, Kent, and Talbot counties — formed when they started playing together during the winter of their 2017-2018 school year. Tryouts were held and a new era of Eastern Shore basketball talent was born.

The first year, Team Peake won most of its games, but always fell just short of tournament championships.

The disappoint only fueled the team.

As the 2017-2018 season ended, the players began playing other sports and trained for basketball in the offseason. When 2018-2019 rolled around, head coach Gary Gould and the parents met monthly to plan and prepare for fundraising events. Las Vegas was a destination in the plans, the city being a tournament hotspot for scouts and upcoming hoops talent.

Team Peake, with the help of John Steinbeck, started a GoFundMe page, and the team exceeded its goal. The squad was on its way to Las Vegas.

Before going to Vegas, Team Peake won a championship at New 24 District Heights, Maryland and also reached the final in Atlantic City, earning an invitation to New York. With Vegas on the horizon, Team Peake turned down the invitational to focus on the trip out west.

While in Vegas during the weekend of July 19, Team Peake went 4-0, winning the championship at Jam On It International Grand Finale tournament. Over the three days, the team won a couple of close games before pulling away and coasting to the championship, bringing the trophy back to Maryland.

Team Peake competed against top international (as far as New Zealand) and U.S. teams, and defeated GI Elite Red of Los Angeles, 42-40, Tucson (Ariz.) Lightning Strike, 52-49, Kent Elite (Seattle), 56-36, and Club Elite Academy (Oakland, Calif.), 53-41 in the title tilt.

“We always stay hard working,” Collin Woolford said via team manager Arnika Johnson. “Never give up; you can do anything that you put your mind to,” Sha’mar Austin added. “Always play your best and never give up,” Kamm Green Jr. chimed in.

The trip started with a plane ride out of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Thursday, July 18. The team stayed at Circus Circus Resort on the Vegas strip and competed at the Las Vegas Convention Center, home of the NBA Summer League.

After the tournament, the players continued their training and helping out in the community. Team Peake is not just about basketball; the team also focuses on friendship, commitment, and developing life skills. Last summer Team Peake had an opportunity to play in a summer league in Annapolis at the Annapolis Arts Sports & Leadership Academy, along with the Men Aiming Higher organization. The latter group mentored the players on different life skills to succeed in today’s society.

“The team expresses their thanks to all the family and friends who contributed to Team Peake,” Johnson said in an email on behalf of the players. “Their generosity allowed these young men to travel to Las Vegas, compete against incredible competition and win the championship for the seventh-grade division.

“Thanks to coach Gary Gould for the wonderful job he did with the boys. Looking forward to bigger and better things from these talented champions.”

From email reports.

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