Coleman shines in Prime Time playoff opener


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Sunday afternoon’s opening matchup at the North Liberty Community Center was supposed to feature current Hawkeye star Devyn Marble taking on future Hawkeye star Peter Jok in the first round of the Prime Time League playoffs.

Unfortunately, Jok rode the bench because of a minor knuckle issue, making way for Iowa Western’s Josiah Coleman to wow the crowd in his first summer-league appearance of the season.

“I felt good to be out there,” Coleman said. “It was good to find my rhythm. I came out with a high defensive intensity and let it contribute to my offense.”

He nursed a sprained ankle during the Prime Time regular season, but he wasted no time establishing himself as a legitimate perimeter threat in his return to action. He contributed 27 points in a 90-85 winning effort.

Coleman was the only player producing consistent offense for coach Kevin Sanders’ team — Marble and Josh Oglesby struggled to find their rhythm for most of the afternoon. Coleman outscored the collective efforts of Marble and Oglesby 11 to 9 during the first half of play.

He was just getting started.

Coleman added 16 points to his scoring output in the second half, including a momentum-changing 3 with less than three minutes left in regulation that put his team ahead 82-79.

“He was big,” Marble said. “I asked him when we were together, ‘Where have you been all season?’ ”

Coleman’s biggest play of the game came with 10:24 left in the second half when Marble found him on the fast break and Coleman elevated over Iowa big man Adam Woodbury to throw down an electric dunk.

Coleman jogged back down the court staring at Woodbury, but he later admitted the dunk was a bit more startling in the moment. 

“Actually, it surprised me,” Coleman said. “That was the first time I dunked since my ankle injury. [Devyn] threw me the ball, and I just let God bless me to the rim.”

The Iowa Western shooting guard recently finished his first season in Council Bluffs averaging 8.2 points while shooting 48 percent from the field. Before joining the Reivers, Coleman played at Cedar Rapids Kennedy High and helped lead his team to the state title game in 2012.

That talent was apparent all afternoon on Sunday; Coleman carried the scoring load until Marble found his groove in the closing moments of the second half. Iowa’s star guard finished the game with 26 points — including 9 of his team’s last 12.

Marble’s step-back jumper with less than a minute left clinched the victory, putting his team up by a count of 88-83. Coleman’s emergence, along with the presence of Marble and Oglesby, creates a loaded perimeter attack for Sanders’ team.

“It [Coleman’s emergence] is a huge relief, but this is the playoffs, and any given day any player can go hot or cold,” Sanders said. “But I’m really optimistic about our chances.”

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