Kastanek and crew credit fun

BY CHARLIE GREEN | JULY 29, 2015 5:00 AM

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Tonight, in the final round of the Game Time League playoffs, Brian Joens’ Cullen/Joensy’s will try to replicate the strategy that has led it to this point.

That strategy? Having a good time.

“We just need everybody playing together, everybody accepting her role, which we’ve really done a nice job of,” Joens said. “Hopefully, we can just have fun in the championship game; that’s what it comes down to, getting better and having fun.”

It’s part of the beauty of summer league. Joens’ star player, Hawkeye Alexa Kastanek, and opposing young incoming Hawk phenom Tania Davis will battle it out for the league title tonight; come November, they will play on the same team — in the colors of black and gold.

The fun for Joens’ team started July 15 in the first round of playoff action, when it narrowly won against Brendan Unkrich’s McCurry’s/Blendcard team, 83-79.

Last week in the semifinals, Joens’ team dominated top-seeded and Randy Larson’s previously undefeated Marion Iron, 103-87.

“We’re just having fun,” Kastanek said. “After this game, we didn’t say, ‘Wow, that was a great win’; we said, ‘Wow, that was really fun.’ ”

Winning makes everything more fun, which is why DiLeo’s squad will try to put a damper on the mood of Kastanek and her teammates.

The incoming Iowa freshman tandem of Davis and Megan Gustafson, both highly touted recruits, leads the team.

With Gustafson’s ability in the paint to score and rebound, and Davis’ effectiveness in running the transition and half-court offense, the team has arguably most balanced scoring attack in the league.

The rest of the output comes from Penn’s Deja Jackson and Dartmouth’s Kate Letkewicz on the wing, as well as a slew of other contributors.

Collectively, the players’ defense is also up there with the best in the league, and it allows them the opportunity to push the ball on the break and pressure opponents in transition.

“We just need to play as a team constantly,” Davis said. “Bear down on defense, and the offense will come.” 

For Joens’ team, defeating the second seed for the Game Time League championship figures to take a complete effort, in which Kastanek and Lindsay Smith continue to attack the basket, Nicole Smith battles Gustafson down low, and wing players Ashley Joens and Rachel Edmundson hit shots from the perimeter.

DiLeo’s team won the regular season matchup between the two, coasting to a 102-78 victory on June 17 in the first week of league action. Now, a month-and-a-half later, Joens’ players believe they can put forth a better performance and come out with the Game Time championship.

“I think just continuing to work together and sharing the ball will be key,” Kastanek said. “Just getting everyone to score and getting the ball to everybody, not having that one person whom they can just shut down.”

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