Don’t count out Peschel

BY CHARLIE GREEN | JULY 13, 2015 5:00 AM

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Brendan Unkrich’s McCurry’s/BlendCard squad finished the Game Time League regular season at 1-3, placing it fifth of six in the final standings.

But with the playoffs beginning Wednesday night, that record now matters little, and the team has one of its best players finally back in action — Iowa’s Kali Peschel.

“She’s so athletic and long, both offensively and defensively,” Unkrich said. “And she’s one of the best pure shooters on the Iowa team; she can get a shot off against anybody.”

After studying abroad in Spain for most of the summer, Peschel made her Game Time début on July 8, scoring 23 points in a 90-85 loss to Brian Joens’ Cullen Painting/Joensy’s team.

The to-be senior forward got off to a hot start on the night but ultimately shot just 6-of-21 from the field. In her first action of the summer, fatigue appeared to set in during the second half.

“She was a little winded, but man, we played her almost the whole game,” Unkrich said. “She did a great job, she’s a great leader and a great person, and anytime you can get a great person on the team, it’s a great opportunity.”

With Peschel finally back in action, Unkrich and Company have their most complete lineup yet. Defensive-minded Courtney Strait is a perimeter force on both sides of the ball. Incoming Iowa four-star forward Hannah Stewart’s athleticism creates mismatches both in transition and in the post as well.

What Peschel provides is a little bit of everything. Although she’s a polished scorer in the post, it’s her experience more than anything that makes her an asset.

She averaged 14.6 minutes per game for the Hawks off the bench last season, contributing 3.0 points per contest.

In a frontcourt that includes the youngster Stewart, leadership can be a key to success in the postseason — another asset Peschel provides.

The timing of her return, although late, allowed Unkrich’s team to gel with one of its best players and build chemistry for the playoffs.

“We needed this one game before the playoffs to work together,” Unkrich said. “This was our game to get Kali involved, and I think we did that. I’m excited moving forward.”

McCurry’s will play Joens’ squad again on Wednesday, this time with the  season on the line. But last week’s performance may have been an indication that the players are ready to take the next step. In addition to Peschel’s performance, Strait and Stewart each added 19 points.

Peschel’s missed shots should go down in her second game. Joens does, however, have a game-changing point guard in Alexa Kastanek, who scored 34 points in the matchup last week.

Strait is one of the best perimeter defenders Game Time has to offer, and offensively, Unkirch has not had the facilitation from the point guard position Kastanek gives her squad.

But Peschel gives him a dynamic frontcourt that could give opponents fits. And heading into the postseason, she may have arrived just in time.

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