Prime Time down to 4

BY SEAN MORGAN | JULY 21, 2009 7:15 AM

Four teams met in two games in the first round of the Prime Time League playoffs, and both had the same result: victories powered by Iowa guards, past and present.

In Game One, No. 3 Vinton Merchants, led by current Iowa sophomore guard Anthony Tucker and former Iowa guard Darryl Moore, defeated Jarryd Cole, Duez Henderson, and the rest of No. 6 L.L. Pelling Company/Iowa City Ready Mix, 86-76.

The second game between No. 5 Imprinted Sportswear/Goodfellow Printing and No. 4 Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurry’s was a much closer contest that saw incoming Iowa freshman Cully Payne and Imprinted/Goodfellow win, 81-79.

Vinton will face No. 2 Jill Armstrong of Lepic-Kroeger Realtors and reigning league MVP Matt Gatens, and Imprinted/Goodfellow will play the league’s top team, Culver’s of Coralville, both on Wednesday.

Payne, who finished the game with 10 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists, isn’t worried about taking on the No. 1 seed.

“I don’t care who we play,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. We still have to go out and do our thing.”

Also putting up dominant numbers for Imprinted/Goodfellow were Anthony James of Northern Iowa, who finished with 22 points, and Iowa sophomore Aaron Fuller, who scored 15 and pulled down 21 boards. Devan Bawinkel hit three 3-pointers for nine points, and ex-Northern Iowa big man Eric Coleman scored 12 points and was a force in the paint, pulling down 12 boards and ending three of the final five Imprinted/Goodfellow drives with a block.

The bigger story from that game may have been in the losing effort of Gatens/McCurry’s, which, even without the help of leading scorer and ex-Northern Iowa star Jordan Eglseder, still nearly won.

Gatens/McCurry’s coach Randy Larson said he wouldn’t want to end the season any other way.

“They went out there and showed everyone how the game is supposed to be played. They showed how to play old-style basketball,” he said. “I told them how proud I was of them. We didn’t have a single player today who has ever started a Division-I game. They all have something to prove, and that’s the kind of team I love to coach.”

Contributing to the hard-fought losing effort, Iowa freshman Eric May scored 14 points while contributing six assists and pulling down five rebounds. The game’s high scorer was Malcolm Moore, formerly of City High, who finished with 23 points.

In Vinton’s win over Pelling/Ready Mix, the Iowa trio of Tucker, Moore, and incoming freshman Brennan Cougill each finished with more than 20 points and slammed the door on Cole, Devon Archie, and Henderson. Tucker and Cougill each fell one rebound short of a double-double, finishing with 27 points, nine rebounds and 22 points, nine rebounds respectively. Moore also scored 27 while getting eight boards. Moore and Tucker hit four and five 3-pointers, respectively.

It was an offensive onslaught that left the former Hawkeye Henderson frustrated.

“It was like I told the team at halftime,” said Henderson, who had 22 points. “We went on our run, they went on theirs. We just couldn’t recover from theirs.”

Moore was all smiles following his performance, which included four dunks and one ball bounced off of his forehead by Henderson.

“He told me he’s lucky I know him or he would have thrown it harder,” Moore said. “Tucker really got it going for us though, spreading the ball around. We went on a big run.”

Tucker will face Gatens in the semifinals, who is not only his Iowa teammate but his roommate as well.

“It will be fun to talk about when we get home [after the game],” Tucker said.

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