Aaron White leads in losing effort

BY CARLOS SOSA | JULY 09, 2012 6:30 AM

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Losing isn't easy.

The best competitors however, can rebound and use losing as motivation — LeBron James lost in his first two trips to the NBA Finals but wouldn't be denied on his third, the Boston Red Sox lost for 86 years before winning another World Series, the U.S. Ice Hockey team lost seven Olympic gold medals to Canada and the Soviet Union before finally winning one.

Usually things turn around for the losers, eventually.

Iowa's Aaron White, however, is learning what it's like to be a leader on a team that can't seem to catch a break.

White and head coach Ron Nove's team lost a close game on Sunday to head coach Kevin Lehman's team, 100-97.

"Every game isn't going to go your way," White said. "Can't let the highs get too high and the lows get too low. You have to keep grinding."

But instead of giving up, White responded to the challenge.

"I looked up quickly and we were down 11 or 13 to nothing," he said. "I knew I had to put the ball in the hole. We were down 14 at half, and it was a one-possession game at the end."

He followed up an impressive first half —19 points — with an even better second half.

White had the hot hand after the break. He used a variety of post moves, jumpers, and dunks to rally his team and to prevent a blowout. Nove's team had a chance to tie the game with time winding down in regulation but couldn't find an open shot to finish.

White played a monstrous game, tallying 39 points and 16 rebounds, but the Culver's/Ready Mix still couldn't pull out a win.

Pelling/McCurry's responded with its own leadership. Iowa's Devyn Marble and former Northern Iowa star Ali Farokhmanesh led their team with 25 and 22 points, respectively. The Hawkeyes' Gabe Olaseni also put up good numbers, finishing with 15 points. Upper Iowa's Tucker Wentzien is credited for 14.

White's team, however, had only three hoopsters score more than 10 points — Clay Cook finished behind White's 39 points by putting up 16, and Keith Steffeck scored 13.

"I know they wanted to win," Marble said. "I just told them politely it won't be today."

White is used to being a leader. He averaged 11.1 points per game for Iowa as a freshman and tallied a .504 field goal percentage. The young forward started as the sixth man, but earned a starting role midway through the season.

By the Hawkeyes' appearance in the NIT, White was carrying the team. He put up a 25-point game against Dayton in the first round of the NIT.

And the sophomore-to-be is transferring his leadership skills to the Prime Time. He single-handedly scored over 40 percent of Culver's/Ready Mix's points on Sunday.

White faced a 14-point deficit going into the second half, but decided that he wouldn't let the get away from him. The forward converted a crucial 3-point play with 15:50 left in the second half to cut Pelling/McCurry's lead to 3.

White's surge threatened Marble and Farokhmanesh, and the two were forced to take the game into their hands. The young Hawkeye's dominance doesn't go unnoticed in the Prime Time League, whether he puts up a 39-point game or not.

"Aaron is a great player and can make a lot of plays. He does everything — he rebounds the ball well, he shoots the ball well, he plays an all-around game," Farokhmanesh said. "It's hard to stop a guy who can handle the ball like that. He plays hard all the time, and it's hard to match up with him. There's not a lot of guys in this league who have that kind of motor like he does."

DI Sports Editor Molly Irene Olmstead contributed to this story.

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