Two teams battle for top spot

BY WILL MCDAVID | JULY 02, 2014 5:00 AM

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Two undefeated teams will enter North Liberty’s Roberts Gym tonight sitting atop the Game Time League standings. By the game’s end, only one will hold that distinction. In the evening’s marquee matchup, coach Brendan Ulkrich’s team will be pitted against Pat McCool’s.

After opening its season on consecutive victories, McCool’s squad is ready for the challenge. With three players averaging upwards of 19 points, the team has had success establishing offensive balance.

“I think we’re playing really well as a team,” forward Kali Peschel said. “I think everyone’s getting good shots.”

While the inclusive nature of the offensive has paid dividends early, its effectiveness is predicated on the ability McCool’s athletes have shown to capitalize on the opportunities the strategy creates.

“We’re driving and dishing,” Peschel said. “We have good players who can shoot the open shot and really great players who can drive and make that pass to get that shot. I think we’re playing really well as a team offensively.”

Peschel’s contributions have been integral to McCool’s attack, but her greatest value to the team is as its defensive lynchpin, her length and athleticism allowing her to guard numerous positions.

Despite her gifts as a stopper, even she might unable contain the star of Ulkrich’s team, Ally Disterhoft. After scoring 36 points in her first game, the Iowa sophomore poured in an even more impressive 42 in her second performance. In this two-game span, Disterhoft was remarkably efficient, racking up 78 points on a mere 49 attempts from the field.

If her team maintains the up-tempo style that has been so conducive to her game, McCool’s squad will be hard-pressed to stop her.

“My team really likes to push the ball, play up-tempo, get out and run,” Disterhoft said. “And when you do that, you’re going to put a lot of points on the board.”

Brian Joens’ team vs. Clark Anderson’s team

Looking to put its lop-sided opening loss behind it, Joens’ group righted the ship against Randy Larson’s team, which was playing without Melissa Dixon, defeating its shorthanded opponent, 85-72.

Set to play Anderson’s squad tonight, Iowa center Nicole Smith was encouraged by her team’s performance.

“We executed our offense better,” Smith said. “We got a lot more pass and cuts than in the past game. We got it inside, and Claire (Till) hit some 3s on the outside.”

With the help of Till and Courtney Joens, the team looks to build on last week’s victory. A win tonight would put its record over .500.

In order to accomplish this goal, Smith and company will have to overcome Anderson’s team. Led by Iowa star Samantha Logic and North Dakota State graduate Ali Browning, beating Anderson group will be easier said than done.

Larson’s team vs. Joe Johnston’s team

At 1-1, Larson’s Team’s record is indicative of its ability — the squad’s central figure, Melissa Dixon, was unavailable for its second outing. With Dixon in the fold for third game of Game Time play, Larson’s most pressing concern will be stopping Joe Johnston’s center Bethany Doolittle.

“She’s such a great shooter, such a great scorer,” Larson said, “She can shoot that 15- to 20-footer better than anybody.”

With each team heavily dependent on its respective star, Larson will look to Iowa’s Carly Mohns to provide an added boost.

“I think she gives a girl that can play the 5 and the 4,” Larson said. “She’s athletic, and she can score, rebound, and defend.”

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