The Prime Time League season came to a conclusion on Thursday night, after Westport Touchless/Beat the Bookstore defeated the Jill Armstrong Team of Skogman Reality, 89-77.
Jarrod Uthoff and Dom Uhl headline the roster for Westport Touchless/Beat the Bookstore, and both showed up to play in the title game. Uthoff scored 32 points on 11-of-20 from the field, and also quickly asserted his dominance in a head-to-head matchup with the opposing Dondre Alexander.
Alexander had been the driving force behind Dan Ahrens’ offense all summer long, and had also been tasked in the playoffs with guarding the opponents’ best player. Assigned to the much taller and longer Uthoff, Alexander got in foul trouble early and never found his groove. He had only 12 points, three rebounds, and a lone assist.
Uhl also did his job, and similarly caused havoc with his individual matchup. Uhl scored 18 points and grabbed 14 boards, but his most crucial contribution was in dragging Adam Woodbury away from the hoop. With Okey Ukah switched onto Uthoff, Woodbury was the only answer to Uhl’s height, and therefore spent too much time away from the hoop. He was absent defensively, and this also contributed to a 33-42 rebounding deficit.
The turning point in the game came early. The teams had been going back and forth, but when Alexander got his third foul, Ahrens’ offense struggled mightily. Woodbury couldn’t take over in the post, and open shots from the perimeter were hard to come by without their lead guard. The shuffling of the defensive adjustments, however, was the fatal flaw.
“It changes everything, you have to change your whole game plan,” Ahrens said. “Uthoff is a tough matchup, he’s one of a kind.”
Without Alexander, Ukah had to switch off of Uhl to take Uthoff, sending Woodbury to the perimeter with Uhl. Both then had advantages with their first steps attacking the hoop, which led to blow by’s to an open, unprotected rim.
The PTL had become very guard-driven, but in the final game, it’s the versatility of Iowa’s post players that won the championship. Uthoff was rewarded for his versatile dominance all summer, as commissioner Randy Larson named him MVP and Defensive Player of the Year at the conclusion of the game.