Aaron White clutch in Prime Time
Aaron White didn't take long to endear himself to Hawkeye basketball fans.
The incoming Iowa freshman scored a game-high 26 points and hit a game-winning lay-up as time expired to give his Prime Time League team a 100-99 win in the summer championship on Sunday in North Liberty.
White had plenty of help on the game's final play, though.
The freshman's Falbo/Culver's team was down by a bucket with about 30 seconds left, and Coach's Corner/Two Rivers standout Chip Rank held the ball. Rank was stripped by Andre Murphy, who dove on top of the ball at half-court and flipped a pass to Matt Gatens. The Iowa City native found an open White streaking toward the block, who caught the ball and flipped it under defender Alex Novak's arm toward the hoop.
The ball rolled around the rim before dropping through, giving White plenty of time to take a lap around the court before teammate Melsahn Basabe leaped into his arms.
"Aaron looked really good tonight," said White's coach, Ron Nove. "He played like, maybe, the player of the game."
White was excellent from the start — he began the game with 13 points in the first half in front of a standing room-only crowd. He was one of five Falbo players to finish with double-digit points.
Coach's Corner wasn't about to be outdone, despite playing with a severely limited roster. Only seven players suited up for coach Kevin Lehman, who was missing his first two draft picks after forward Anthony Hubbard left the Iowa basketball program two weeks ago and point guard Anthony James sprained his ankle.
"I was really proud of our team because they were playing without our top two picks," Lehman said. "Other guys, like [Joey] Woods, really stepped up for us and played well."
Woods and Rank lit up the basket in the first half, scoring a combined 27 points on 11-of-12 shooting in the opening minutes. Woods shot 6-for-6 from the floor in the period and kept Coach's Corner within striking distance throughout the half. He finished with 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting, and Rank added 23 more and dropped in five 3-pointers.
The second half began much like the first, with both teams seemingly scoring at will. The difference came at the free-throw line; Falbo took 16 freebies and made 15 of them — including a pair from White with 45 seconds left to pull the team within a basket — while Coach's Corner was only 4-of-5 from the line in the second half.
And even though Murphy, generally listed between 5-8 and 5-9, was the smallest person on the court, no one was bigger on defense. The point guard, notable for his attempt to walk on to the Iowa basketball team last year, had four steals and seemed to be constantly poking the ball away from players.
Everything added up to what Nove called a classic finish to Prime Time's 25th season.
"[It's] too bad somebody had to lose," he said. "That was probably the best game I've seen here in five years."
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