Prime Time League playoffs heat up

BY MATT CABEL | JULY 18, 2013 5:00 AM

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The July heat has hit Iowa City. With it come some of the biggest matchups of the Prime Time League.

Two teams — Aaron White’s and Darius Stokes’ team and that of Peter Jok, Adam Woodbury, and Kyle Meyer — have been eliminated. Four remain, vying for a spot in the July 21 championship game.

The remaining teams consist of the top-seeded team that includes Zach McCabe and Gabe Olaseni, Randy Larson’s second-seeded team with Iowa’s Anthony Clemmons and Jarrod Uthoff, the third-seeded team with Iowa’s Mike Gesell and Okey Ukah, and the fifth-seeded team with Hawkeyes Devyn Marble and Josh Oglesby.

“We’re still going to play hard,” Marble said after his team won its first playoff game Sunday after posting a 1-5 record in the regular season. “… There’s definitely a competitive factor in there.”

Both of the league’s top two seeds could face big threats — each of their opponents came into their own during Sunday’s playoff matches.

Gesell’s matchup will be a rematch with fellow guard Clemmons. The two have been pushing each other to get better on the practice court since last season.

Gesell, who has struggled in the first half of games in the summer, erupted for 32 points on Sunday, including 17 in the first half on 7-of-13 shooting.

“Whenever we step on the floor, it’s a competition,” Gesell said about the matchup. “We’re both competitive guys, we love to go at each other … You’ll definitely see us going at each other.”

Gesell said he watched film on NBA guards Tony Parker and Stephen Curry in attempts to learn more about the change-of-pace dribbles that split defenses and help define them as two of the NBA’s best guards.

“These are summer-league games, and it’s [a] time to try to experiment, work on parts of your game that need to be worked on it,” Gesell said. “… I’ve really been working on my finishing, trying to add a floater, runner type thing to my game.”

Larson, the league’s commissioner and coach of Uthoff and Clemmons, said his team has been successful because of its ability to share the ball, along with strong performances from Uthoff and the continued improvement of Clemmons.

“You always look back and say, ‘Sometimes, things just fell right for you,’ ” Larson said.

Marble and Oglesby will face off against the McCabe-Olaseni post threat combination, a rematch of both team’s regular-season finale (a 120-94 blowout win for McCabe’s and Olaseni’s team, which is the only one that remains unbeaten in league play).

Olaseni and McCabe will have the challenge of slowing down Marble, who has gone on scoring tears in each of his last three games — he’s scored 35, 25, and 26 points.

The challenge is heightened with the ever-present deep threat of Oglesby; along with newly found talent in Josiah Coleman, who produced a team-high 27 points in Sunday’s victory.

This late-season run by Marble’s team might come as a surprise to some — but don’t tell him that.

“You know how the All-Star games are at first — they’re kind of slow, everyone’s kind of just standing there,” Marble said. “When it gets to the later part of the game, everybody’s trying to win — that competitive nature comes out. That’s similar to what’s happening here [in Prime Time].”

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