Smith gives Kastanek a side-kick in Game Time

BY CHARLIE GREEN | JULY 27, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Game Time League has largely been dominated by two teams in 2015 — those being Randy Lareson’s Marion Iron and Kay DiLeo’s Beat the Bookstore/Westport.

Brian Joens’ Cullen/Joensy’s has flown under the radar. Led by Iowa guard Alexa Kastanek, the group knocked off Larson’s top-seeded squad last week and is now set to face the duo of talented youngsters Tania Davis and Megan Gustafson of DiLeo’s team in the league championship Wednesday night.

While newcomers’ talent may be matched by no one in the league, the scrappy style of Lindsay Smith could give Kastanek the right partner to pull an upset.

“She’s a very hard-nosed player; she’ll dive on the floor and get those balls. She can bring the ball up court when they’re guarding me full court,” Kastanek said. “She’s a great player; she’s very versatile in what she can do.”

That versatility makes Smith a threat to score in a variety of ways. Accuracy from deep forces defenders up on her, but her effectiveness driving to the basket keeps defenders from being overly aggressive.

She scored 20 points in the win over Marion, shooting 8-of 12 from the field, including a 3-of-4 mark from deep in her most efficient offensive performance of the summer.

While Kastanek’s role is to take a high number of shots and get to the foul line often, Smith makes defenses pay for giving her too much attention. She’s also active on the glass, grabbing 13 rebounds last week, and a menace on defense and loose-ball situations.

“She played an incredible game,” Joens said. “She played hard and gave 100 percent effort. I thought that was a huge difference, because she was able to defend and stay with Whitney [Jennings], where a lot of kids wouldn’t be able to.”

After averaging 12.5 points in the regular season, Smith has thrived in the continued rise of Kastanek, showing off her well-rounded as a complementary asset for Joens in the postseason.

She can pass, defend, rebound, and score, and do so while occasionally spelling Kastanek at point guard.

DiLeo’s core that features highly touted freshmen Davis and Gustafson, and they might be the most talented in the league. The versatility of their offensive approach allows them to consistently score both inside and out, while Gustafson is a rebounding machine on both ends.

Nicole Smith will be charged with neutralizing her, but Lindsay Smith and Kastanek will be looked upon to contain the explosive and opportunistic Davis, as well as a slew of other talented wing players.

Lindsay Smith has played a championship-level of defense throughout the summer. Her gritty, high-energy approach that teammates and coaches laud is the best recipe to stop Davis and a rolling DiLeo squad.

Smith will play for St. Ambrose next season after previous stints at Division-I programs Wisconsin and Illinois State.

“She was a Division-I player at one time with Wisconsin,” Joens said. “And I think she comes out here with a chip on her shoulder.”

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