Defense paves way for Unkrich’s championship season

BY ERIN ERICKSON | JULY 31, 2014 5:00 AM

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Another season of the Game Time League is in the books. The final two teams duked it out Wednesday in North Liberty to determine the league champion for the 2014 season.

Brendan Unkrich’s undefeated squad ended its perfect season on a high note, defeating Randy Larson’s team, 81-58.

Without senior Melissa Dixon in the lineup for Larson because of an injury to her heel, Unkrich was able to focus solely on stopping his opponent’s next best player, Jacqui Kalin.

“Jacqui is a tremendous player,” Unkrich said. “She has shot the ball extremely well from the outside, but the best part of her game is getting to the rim.”

Much of that defensive success can be attributed to M’caela Sellers, who plays for Kennedy High in Cedar Rapids.

“We were focusing on sagging back from our man-to-man in order to help each other out when Jacqui drives to the basket,” Sellers said. “We leave our players open to put more pressure on Jacqui, just hoping we stop her drive.”  

While Unkrich’s strategy paid of in the end, unfortunately for Larson it seemed nearly impossible to shut down star sophomore Ally Disterhoft.

Unkrich’s team was the heavy favorite going into last night’s game, the high-powered offense led by league MVP Disterhoft seemed unstoppable at halftime and stayed true to that form until the final buzzer.

Disterhoft didn’t disappoint people in her final performance this summer. Scoring an impressive 36 points, the Iowa sophomore averaged 40.8 points per game, leading the league with 204 total points this season.

“We wanted to come out and play aggressively; obviously, in the championship game, anything can happen,” Disterhoft said. “We put the records aside. We just wanted to get out, and run, and put some points on the board. We came out and played well as a team; collectively, it was a great team win.”

Perfection is not an easy accomplishment to obtain. Even with the absence of such key performers as Disterhoft, Courtney Straight, and Emily Soy — who each missed games throughout the season — Unkrich’s team was able to dominate the league week after week, proving that one player doesn’t decide the outcome for his team.

“We were fortunate enough to get some good players and get them to play together. When you get that, good things happen,” Unkrich said. “We were fortunate enough to have those good players. And they loved playing with each other. They were always available on the court.”

Each player on the team seems to bring different skills that benefit the team as a whole. Collectively, they have silenced opponents on the defensive end and have shown no mercy offensively.

“We had a true 1-5; when you have that on the floor, it can be pretty dangerous,” Disterhoft said.

“This team the entire summer has played so unselfishly. It was a lot of fun to play with.”

Six weeks of fast competition and noteworthy performances are finally over.

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