LAS VEGAS—Coby White had the best game of any player on the floor. But he wasn’t the star when the clock expired.
That distinction belonged to Darrion Trammell, the 5-foot-7 guard who played a mere seven seconds for the Oakland Soliders in The Eight semifinal matchup against Team CP3.
The Soldiers, down 14 at one point, escaped with a 62-61 victory over the Chris Paul-led AAU squad thanks to Trammell’s two free throws with two seconds left.
Oakland will face Team Takeover in Friday’s final in a rematch on last month’s Nike EYBL Peach Jam final, won 70-63 by the Soldiers.
“It’s a really big moment,” Trammell said. “You’ve just got to keep your composure and just think that everything’s bigger than basketball.
Down 61-60 with time winding down, Oakland’s James Akinjo’s layup was blocked by Mohammed Abdul-Salam, and the big man went to the line with seven seconds left. That’s when coach Marshall Collins turned to his bench and put the class of 2018 guard in the game for the first time.
Collins said he had Trammell on the floor for 3-point purposes. The guard from St. Ignatius Prep in San Francisco collected the loose ball off Abdul-Salam’s second missed free throw and was fouled by White, the North Carolina commit playing for Team CP3 who led all scorers with 20 points.
White’s potential game-winning 3 hit off the rim.
“I looked down the bench, I saw Darrion’s eyes and knew he wanted to go in,” Collins said. “When you coach, you look down at the bench and you have that kid that’s looking at you, he said, ‘I’m ready, coach.’”
The main gym at Spring Valley High was a pro-Oakland crowd. Half of the bleachers were filled with Soldier supporters. Trammell said half of them aren’t even family members—they just show up to support.
Oakland’s contingent stood for the majority of the second half. Even when Team CP3, notably White, answered every Oakland bucket, the Soldiers’ faithful got louder. At one point, the light fixtures at center court were shaking.
Trammell saw his teammates rally behind that crowd, watching the Soldiers chip away at the lead that seemed insurmountable.
“We had to take it point by point,” Trammell said. “That crowd is all love.
The Soliders will take the court at 5 p.m. ET in the finals, with a chance to win another title. Oakland’s collective mentality will more than likely be that of Trammell’s — be ready when called upon.
“(Trammell) is one of those kids that wants the limelight,” Collins said. “He came out here and stepped up. It doesn’t matter (how much) these kids play. They’re all ready to play.”