Semi-finals ahead for Game Time

BY CHARLES GREEN | JULY 23, 2014 5:00 AM

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A couple of easy quarterfinal victories sent Pat McCool’s team and Joe Johnston’s team into the semifinal round of the Game Time League playoffs.

With a trip to the championship game on the line, these teams won’t have it easy going this time around.

McCool’s team, which cruised to a 116-65 win in the opening round, is set to take on Brendan Unkrich’s team — which has been the most consistent team in the league to this point.

“On defense, we have to contain Chase Coley and Ally Disterhoft,” incoming Iowa point guard Whitney Jennings said. “And as far as offense, we’re always at our best when we’re sharing the ball.”

Jennings, along with Iowa forward Kali Peschel, will need to have big games, because Coley, Disterhoft, and the rest of Unkrich’s squad have yet to lose this season.

Also dueling for a spot in the championship will be Randy Larson’s team and Johnston’s.

For Johnston’s team, Iowa center Bethany Doolittle has been possibly the most dominant frontcourt player on any team. She and teammate Kathryn Reynolds, an Iowa guard, have carried the load offensively for Johnston this season. Larson and Company will try to keep them in check.

“Bethany has really developed her post game this summer,” Larson said. “I think Kathryn Reynolds has been playing as smart as any point guard I’ve seen in a while. She seems to be constantly making the right pass at the right time.”

As good as the pair of Hawkeyes has been, Larson realizes Johnston’s group is more than a two-person team.

“This is a good, solid team,” Larson said. “They play together; they’re unselfish.”

Larson’s team earned a first-round bye after finishing with a record of 2-2 in regular season play. The team’s primary scorer is Iowa guard Melissa Dixon, who dropped an astounding 63 points the last time the two teams met.

“I think we need to shut Melissa down a little better than we did last time,” St. Ambrose point guard Sydney Greiner said. “But at the same time we can’t focus too much on her, because they have others who can beat us as well.”

Despite the monster performance from Dixon in the previous matchup, her team lost, 98-97. And coming off a 91-75 opening round win over Clark Anderson’s team, Johnston’s team will try to bury Dixon and Company.

“If others step up, that should open things up for Melissa,” Larson said. “I think ever since she got the 63 points, she’s been a marked woman.”

Marked or not, Dixon’s performance could decide her team’s fate. Defensively, Larson’s team will face a challenge in stopping 6-4 Doolittle.

“We cannot leave her alone; she’s such an accurate shooter,” Larson said. “We really need to hold her down.”

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