Disterhoft, Davis face off in playoffs

BY CHARLIE GREEN | JULY 22, 2015 5:00 AM

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Four teams remain in the Game Time League playoffs as the semifinals tip off tonight in North Liberty. Ally Disterhoft returned last week, and has transformed Bethany Doolittle’s last-place Comfort Care/Pelling team into a legitimate obstacle for Kay DiLeo’s second-seeded Beat the Bookstore/Wesport.

“We’re just going to have to bang around out there,” Disterhoft said. “It’s going to be a physical game, … we’re really just going to have to focus in defensively.”

Disterhoft scored 29 points in her league début on July 15, shooting 6-of-6 from the 3 zone. She’s paired with former Hawkeye forward Doolittle, a presence on the glass and in the offensive post. Iowa forward Hailey Schneden gives the team a solid defender and third option offensively; she logged a double-double in last week’s action.

But DiLeo’s roster might be the most complete in Game Time. The team lost just one game in the regular season, a 103-100 loss to Randy Larson’s Marion Iron on July 8.

Point guard Tania Davis, a five-star recruit and incoming Iowa freshman, leads the way for DiLeo. In four regular-season games, she averaged 27.0 points per game, putting athleticism and a high basketball IQ on full display.

Down low, fellow incoming Iowa freshman Megan Gustafson has been the most dominant inside player of the summer. A physically imposing 6-3 forward from Wisconsin, she’s been virtually unstoppable in the paint — averaging 19.8 points and  14.5 rebounds per contest.

Swing player Kate Letkewicz of Dartmouth also gives the team a spot-up perimeter shooter and slasher from the wing. Together, these three provide a core that could give Disterhoft and Doolittle trouble in their semifinal matchup.

The winner will advance to play either top-seeded Marion Iron or Brian Joens’ Cullen/Joensy’s, which play each other tonight as well.

Larson’s squad finished undefeated in the regular season and beat Joens’ team, 144-75, in a July 1 showdown.

“They beat us by about 75 points, so we’re just hoping to improve on that,” Joens said.

Although Larson will be without point guard Moran Lonning, the team still has the top guard in the league in Whitney Jennings, as well as Iowa forward Claire Till and a slew of other contributors.

Joens’ point guard, Hawkeye Alexa Kastanek, has been on a tear recently, and she will be relied on to carry a heavy burden on both ends of the floor — charged with putting up big scoring numbers and on defense, slowing down Jennings.

She’ll need help to keep up with the up-tempo attack of Larson’s team. Iowa’s Nicole Smith can score in the paint for Joens, but she will need to get back on defense in transition and protect the rim.

With a shot at the championship game at stake, Kastanek is focused keeping Larson’s high-powered offense at bay — something yet to be accomplished by any team this summer.

“Our defense is what’s really gotten us ahead and helped us,” Kastanek said. “When we get rebounds, we can push, and that’s one of our strong suits. We have a lot of athletes, a lot of girls who can get up and down the floor.”

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