Game Time Playoffs set to begin

BY CHARLIE GREEN | JULY 15, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Game Time League playoffs will kick off tonight with a pair of rematches from last week’s action. The top two teams have byes, and they will learn their semifinal opponents at the conclusion of tonight’s action.

Brian Joens’ Cullen/Joensy’s will take on Brendan Unkrich’s McCurry’s/BlendCard one week after defeating McCurry’s, 90-85.

“We have no problem putting up points,” Joens’ guard Alexa Kastanek said. “I think our defense needs to step up a bit going into playoffs; we’re just trying to get one win at a time.”

Kastanek, a soon-to-be junior at Iowa, scored 35 points last week for Joens, upping her average to 25.0 points per game. She’s paired up with Iowa forward Nicole Smith, who scored 20 points last week and grabbed 13 rebounds.

But another Iowa forward, senior-to-be Kali Peschel, returned to action for Unkrich’s squad after studying abroad in Spain. She scored 23 in her début, and, with Hannah Stewart and Courtney Strait, gives the team length and offensive firepower from a variety of spots on the floor.

The difference in the game might come down to how how Kastanek plays. Unkrich’s group lacks a true, facilitating point guard like her, and her ability to run the offense could ultimately send McCurry’s team home.

And Joens is confident that’s how it will play out.

“We’re feeling pretty good about it,” he said. “Randy’s [Larson] and Kay DiLeo’s teams are undefeated at this point, and so those are the two big dogs in the tournament. If we can get by the first game, we’d love to have a crack at either one of those teams.”

The other game comes between Bethany Doolittle’s Comfort Care/Pelling and Joe Johnston’s Vinton Merchants/Culver’s. Johnston’s squad won the matchup last week, 80-69.

For the 0-4 Comfort Care to earn its first win of the season and move on to the semifinals, player-coach Doolittle will have to carry the load. She scored 29 points and snared 13 boards against Iowa forward Chase Coley, who is quite possibly the best defender Game Time has to offer.

Offense has been hard to come by for each team, so both figure to look to their role players to step up.

For Johnston’s team, one of those important role players is Quincy guard Taylor Hickey — who scored 11 points and dished out 6 assists last Wednesday.

But the duo of Coley and Carly Mohns, who scored 30 last week, may alone just be too much for Doolittle and Company to handle. The former Iowa forward has been challenged this season in the absence of incoming freshman point guard Tagyn Larson, and her team might just not have the roster to make it past the first round.

As for the league’s top two teams, Larson’s Marion Iron and DiLeo’s Beat the Bookstore/Westport will square off in an exhibition game. Last week, Larson’s team prevailed, 103-100, in the game of the summer.

For now, it’s just a tune-up for the semifinals, but both these teams appear primed to see each other again.

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