Prime Time hits playoffs

BY ROBBIE LEHMAN | JULY 20, 2009 7:15 AM

The Prime Time League will shift into a higher gear starting tonight.

Players and coaches all summer have noted the overall competitiveness of the league, which organizers condensed from eight to six teams in its 23rd summer for that reason. As the playoffs begin this evening in North Liberty, the players will turn up their intensity.

Iowa sophomore guard Matt Gatens of Jill Armstrong of Lepic-Kroeger Realtors, is in his seventh season of the Prime Time League and trying to defend his second championship and Most Valuable Player award from last summer. He knows there is a different attitude that surrounds the playoffs.

“You’re playing win or go home,” he said. “It’s always fun to win a title.”

Teams were seeded 1 through 6 after the completion of the regular season, with Culver’s of Coralville and Armstrong both earning first-round byes for finishing first and second, respectively.
“It’s nice to have a bye, and we’re ready to go,” Gatens said.

Matching up tonight will be third-seeded Vinton Merchants and sixth-seeded L.L. Pelling/Iowa City Ready Mix in the early game at 6 p.m. The 7:30 p.m., showdown will feature No. 4 Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurry’s and No. 5 Imprinted Sportswear/Goodfellow Printing.

One of the teams gunning for Gatens and company is Vinton, which has been carried by Iowa sophomore guard Anthony Tucker.

“I hope we can make a deep run in the playoffs,” he said. “It’s our plan, and we’re more than capable. We just have to play well for longer than two or three minutes at a time.

“We play well in spurts every game. It seems like in every game, we have almost a 10-point lead, so we just have to work on maintaining that lead in the playoffs.”

Helping Tucker is new Iowa teammate freshman forward Brennan Cougill, who is also confident Vinton can build on its momentum from the regular season.

“We’re going to fare pretty well,” he said. “We don’t know where we’re at yet, but we’re starting to play very well coming into playoff time. If we keep playing like this, keep playing defense, keep hitting our shots and taking care of the ball, we should be fine.”

Another incoming freshman will be in Cougill’s way, however.

“I think we have as good a chance as anybody,” Eric May of Gatens/McCurry’s said. “As long as we play well, chances are good.”

Ex-Hawkeye Darryl Moore, who teams with Tucker and Cougill on Vinton, thinks the team is in a prime position to make a run.

“I am looking for a big run, seriously,” he said. “We started out early getting back into shape, and we know each other a lot better now. Against the first-place team, it went down to the wire both games, and it could have gone either way. I think we’ve got a good chance.”

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