Frosh strong in Game Time début, but vets lead

BY CLARK CAHILL | JUNE 17, 2009 7:20 AM

Coralville Hy-Vee received a huge contribution from one of Iowa’s incoming freshmen, but two of the Hawkeyes’ veteran players led the way en route to a 102-82 victory over L.L. Pelling/Cullen Painting in the opening night of the Game Time league.

Incoming Hawkeye Morgan Johnson showed why she was the 2009 Miss Show Me Basketball Award winner — given to Missouri’s top prep senior — after posting 11 points and eight rebounds in the first half for Hy-Vee. But Pelling/Cullen was able to contain the Platte City, Mo., native in the second half, and she came up short in a double-double bid with 17 points on 8-for-10 shooting, nine rebounds, and two blocks.

“It was good to get the nerves out, and I was excited to play with some of my teammates,” she said. “I just need to improve on going to the basket stronger and not always rely on my turnaround jumper.”

The freshman’s turnaround jumper kept Hy-Vee in the game during a first half filled with poor defense and several turnovers, but it still trailed 39-38 at halftime.

Fortunately for Hy-Vee, Iowa juniors-to-be Kachine Alexander and Kelsey Cermak took control, and the team outscored Pelling/Cullen 64-43 in the second half.

“Our defense really stepped up in the second half,” Alexander said. “We allowed too many 3-pointers in the first, but we were able to stop that in the second.”

Alexander, a 2009 second team All-Big Ten selection, led the team with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. The Minneapolis native sparked Hy-Vee’s comeback after finishing a four-point-play during the second half.

Trailing 50-46, Alexander drove down the lane and delivered a difficult lay-up as she was fouled. Pelling/Cullen was called for a technical on the play, and Alexander drilled both of her free throws, tying the score at 50. Hy-Vee took the lead on its next possession and never fell behind again.

Cermak also had an impressive second half, notching 13 points after going scoreless in the first.
Even though the veteran Hawkeyes controlled the second half, they could not avoid the talent shown by Johnson in the first half. Alexander said she was excited about playing on the same team as Johnson for the summer.

“It gives me a chance to improve her confidence, because she is going to be a big contribution to our team next year,” Alexander said. “Everyone is going to get to see how good she is.”

Johnson said she wants to do whatever she can to help the team, which appears to lack depth at the post position.

“We are kind of limited on post players,” Johnson said. “I’m here to help improve the team and make myself better.”

Another incoming Iowa freshman, Trisha Nesbitt, recorded eight points and three assists for Pelling/Cullen in her Game Time début. The Ames native said the game was a great experience.

“Everyone is bigger and quicker, and I can’t use some of the moves I used in high school,” she said. “I kind of rely on driving in the lane, so I have to work on using screens better and getting shots off quicker.”

Other Hawkeyes joining Nesbitt on Pelling/Cullen were sophomores-to-be Kelly Krei and Hannah Draxten. Krei had a solid game with 11 points, nine rebounds, and four assists, while Draxten contributed 10 points in defeat.

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