Kastanek, Doolittle help teams advance

BY CHARLIE GREEN | JULY 16, 2015 5:00 AM

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After trailing nearly the entire game, Brian Joens’ Cullen Painting/Joensy’s rallied to defeat Brendan Unkrich’s McCurry’s/BlendCard, 83-79, to advance to the semifinals of the Game Time League playoffs.

It took the team until late in the fourth to take the lead, when it proceeded to dominate on the defensive end.

“Honestly, I thought everyone who was out there, all the girls on our team, contributed in one way or another,” Joens said.

Iowa guard Alexa Kastanek led the way for the team, scoring 22 points on 5-of-17 shooting from the field and grabbing 9 rebounds. More importantly, she worked to get her teammates involved, dishing out 7 assists.

“I knew they were guarding me pretty hard because I had a good game last week,” Kastanek said. “So getting other people shots and getting everybody into it was my main goal this week.”

Iowa forward Nicole Smith chipped in a double-double for Joens with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Ashley Joens scored 18 as well.

After giving up 31 points to McCurry’s in the first quarter, the group rallied, holding Unkrich and Company to just 10 points in the second and closing to 41-38 at the half.

“We knew that we needed to get a hand up on the shooters; we were giving up a lot of 3-pointers,” Smith said. “Once we got our hands up we knew … they only scored 10 points in the second quarter.”

Their squad still trailed much of the half, but late buckets by Smith and Kastanek put them ahead. At the defensive end, they began to clamp down on a spent McCurry’s team. And although they missed key free throws in the final minutes, they were able to hit enough to put it out of reach.

Unkrich’s team had plenty of opportunities to tie it, though. Down 81-79 with under a minute, Kali Peschel dribbled the ball up and put up a shot from the top of the key — an air ball as she appeared to have been fouled.

But the referees didn’t call it, and the game was all but over.

“We had the lead most of the game, so that’s what was frustrating about it,” Unkrich said. “But they did a good job finishing the game, and we still probably turned the ball over a few too many times.”

In the next game of the night, Bethany Doolittle’s Comfort Care/Pelling earned its first win of the season when it needed it the most, defeating Joe Johnston’s Vinton Merchants/Culver’s, 93-69, to avoid elimination.

“We’ve been improving pretty much every week,” player-coach Doolittle said. “We started off a little rough, but tonight, we were working really well off of each other. We found what they were doing on defense and took advantage of the different techniques they were using.”

Doolittle scored 19 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and had 6 assists in the win. A fresh Ally Disterhoft led the team with 29 points, and Hailey Schneden contributed a double-double with 16 points and 10 boards.

The team out-rebounded Johnston’s squad 50-31.

Next week, it will take on Kay DiLeo’s Beat the Bookstore/Wesport, which is led by incoming Iowa point guard Tania Davis. Joens’ group will take on Randy Larson’s Marion Iron, which went undefeated in the regular season.

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