Tucker goes off in Prime Time victory

BY TRAVIS VARNER | JUNE 18, 2009 7:21 AM

Anthony Tucker caught fire Wednesday night in his Prime Time League showdown against Hawkeye teammate Matt Gatens, propelling the Vinton Merchants to a 102-95 victory over Jill Armstrong of Lepic-Kroeger Realtors.

The sophomore-to-be Tucker led the way for Vinton with a game-high 29 points, shooting 66 percent behind the 3-point line. Gatens led Armstrong with 22 points in the losing effort.

Tucker was pleased with the team effort. He chose not to gloat about his hot stroke, rather, he praised his Prime Time teammates. He thinks the team’s ability to execute screens is the reason for its success.

“They were going under our ball screens, so I just kind of shot it, they were hedging too hard,” Tucker said. “Our guys made shots tonight, and we shot really well.”

Vinton coach Ray Swetalla praised his team’s lights-out shooting, and he was pleased with how it ran its offense. Without Tucker, he doesn’t think the offense would have been as strong.

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“Anthony is our point guard, and we drafted him to run the show … he’s key to what we’re doing,” Swetalla said. “He’s distributing the ball, very good in pick ’n’ roll, and the other kids are spacing out really well.”

From the very beginning, Tucker hit shots, making two 3-pointers in the game’s first five minutes. When Armstrong made adjustments, he found the open man or called for a well-timed and well-executed ball-screen.

He was not the only one scoring in the first half — Gatens found the open lane time after time, driving at will. Vincent struggled in the first half to keep tabs on him because of the sophomore’s explosive first step. If they crashed on him, he kicked it out to the open shooter.

With about four seconds to play in the first half, Armstrong ran a simple but effective in-bounds play creating an open look from 3-point land for Gatens. The Iowa City native hit it and cut his team’s halftime deficit to three points, 46-43. He was pleased with the play, but it ended up not being a factor in the result.

“It was just a situation where you try to get it in bounds and get the best shot off you can,” he said. “We got a little momentum going into the second half, but it didn’t carry the whole way — it was a tough loss.”

Vinton made halftime adjustments to get the ball out of Gatens hands early, and it worked. This created some havoc for Armstrong. Gatens ended up making two key turnovers late in the game because of former Iowa player Darryl Moore.

“There were a couple of times where I probably should have shot the ball instead of trying to pass it in traffic,” Gatens said.

Moore hasn’t been in a Hawkeye uniform in more than a decade, but he showed amazing quickness and athleticism. He had two high-flying dunks and nearly had a double-double; he ended the night with 16 points and nine rebounds.

Armstrong coach Dan Ahrens was irritated with his team’s defensive performance and the surprising play by Moore.

“They had an old guy, Darryl Moore, who schooled us tonight. He took advantage of our whole concept,” Ahrens said. “Darryl kicked our butts tonight. Too many plays by an old guy; he just sat back and made some steals.”

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