It’s win or go home in the Prime Time League, and the first round of playoff action Thursday in North Liberty was packed with action.
The games at 6 p.m. were a pair of perplexing affairs, most notably Kevin Sanders’ No. 7 seed BlendCard/McCurry’s almost pulling off an upset over ex-Hawk star Jess Settles’ No. 2 Marion Iron.
Settles’ squad, led by incoming freshman Andrew Fleming, ex-Hawkeye star Matt Gatens, and Northern Iowa’s Wes Washpun, has been one of the hottest teams in the league for the past month, but it was missing Brady Ellingson and felt his absence perhaps more than the players had expected.
The team’s shooters played well early in the game, but they struggled mightily with the physicality of Sanders’ team. They surrendered their lead, once near 20 points, as Iowa newcomers Dale Jones and Brandon Hutton made their presence known.
Hutton led with 32 points on 13-of-25 shooting with 9 rebounds, and Jones scored 28 points and snared 14 rebounds.
As they’ve had to do on at least one other occasion this summer, however, Settles’ players kept shooting. They were locked at 99-99 in the waning seconds.
They took the ball out of bounds — at this time, Gatens had scored 32 points, with Washpun and Fleming hitting 24 apiece — so they liked their chances. Washpun took the in-bounds pass, drove, and kicked to an unlikely hero.
Nick Lyon of Grandview College buried a 3 from the right wing, capping an impressive escape and sending his team to a 102-99 victory.
Ray Swetalla’s No. 4 Linn County Anesthesiologists also earned a 111-102 victory over Brendan Unkrich’s No. 5 seed Pelling/Comfort Care. Both teams finished the regular season at 3-3, and the outcome could be viewed as an upset.
Mike Gesell and Matt Bohannon had carried Unkrich’s squad all season, with freshman Christian Williams appearing to form a big three in recent weeks. Gesell, however, was limited by sickness, which slowed the offense.
Gesell had only 13 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds, leaving Bohannon’s 34, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists largely unaided. Williams was 2-of-10 from the 3 zone, scoring 16 points, which was simply not enough to overcome magnificent performances from the opposite bench.
Hawkeye Peter Jok had 28 points and 14 rebounds for Swetalla’s team, and incoming Hawk Ahmad Wagner had 20 points and 11 rebounds. Northern Iowa’s Wyatt Lohaus hit a triple-double, with 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists.
In the nightcap, Hawkeye Jarrod Uthoff led Randy Larson’s No. 3 Westport/Beat the Bookstore over Ron Nove’s Culver’s/Vinton Merchants, 103-92.
Uthoff had 31 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists, and Hawk Dom Uhl chipped in 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists. Led by the two wings, it was a relatively comfortable win over Anthony Clemmons’ 24 points and 9 assists.