By Brendan Stiles
NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa — Numerous stories have emerged through two weeks of the Prime Time League. Perhaps the most intriguing is what’s happening with Falbo Bros Pizza/Culver’s of Coralville.
Its 1-2-3 punch of senior guard Matt Gatens, freshman forward Aaron White and sophomore forward Melsahn Basabe provided enough of a boost for Falbo/Culver’s to defeat McCurry’s/Mike Gatens Real Estate 109-106 on Tuesday at the North Liberty Community Center. It was the third straight win for Falbo/Culver’s, who now moves to 3-1 this summer.
It’s no coincidence that the winning streak began when Basabe and Gatens both returned to the lineup. Basabe led the way for Falbo/Culver’s Tuesday with a game-high 39 points on 17-of-29 shooting, and also added 11 rebounds. White contributed with 19 points and three boards, and Gatens had 31 points on 11-of-15 shooting, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range.
“Our whole team, everybody does their job,” Basabe said. “I think we have the deepest and most-talented team. I expect us to come out and win every game, really.”
With Gatens entering his final campaign with the Hawkeyes, the area of the Iowa captain’s game that remains his main focus this summer is his outside shooting. The numbers might not have been up to par last season for the Hawkeyes’ leading scorer, but on this night, it proved to be the difference.
“Coming out of high school, I wasn’t known to be the greatest shooter. I’m still not, but I feel like I’ve really stepped up my shooting,” Gatens said. “That’s something I continue to work on — getting my percentages up, and just something the coaches rely on for me.
McCurry’s/Gatens fell to 1-3 and now sits in a three-way tie for last place. Junior forward Eric May posted another strong outing with 30 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. McCurry’s/Gatens also received the best performance so far this summer from freshman guard Josh Oglesby, who had 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting, as well as seven boards.
Coach’s Corner/Two Rivers Bank & Trust 96, Iowa City Ready Mix/Vinton Merchants 84
Not to be outdone by Falbo/Culver’s and its three-game winning streak, Corner/Rivers found a way to remain unbeaten through two weeks of the PTL, defeating Ready Mix/Merchants 96-84 on Tuesday to move to 4-0.
Once again providing the boost for Corner/Rivers was junior Anthony Hubbard, who followed up a near triple-double last weekend with 21 points and 11 rebounds on Tuesday. Perhaps even more impressive though, was that Hubbard shot a perfect 8-for-8 from the free-throw line. This comes nine days after his PTL debut when questions emerged about his free-throw shooting.
But it wasn’t the 8-for-8 that had him smiling Tuesday night. That would be the 4-for-4 in terms of winning games this summer.
“We’re undefeated, man,” Hubbard said. “I like winning. I love winning. That’s a part of having fun, so I guess I’m having fun right now as long as we’re winning.”
As for Ready Mix/Merchants, it now sits at 1-3 after losing three straight. Senior guard Bryce Cartwright finished with 22 points and five assists, while freshman forward Gabe Olaseni had four points and nine rebounds while being a force at the defensive end of the floor once again.
Corner/Rivers’ win now sets up a battle for first place next week, when it faces Falbo/Culver’s, who enters with a 3-1 mark.
Jill Armstrong of Lepic-Kroeger Realtors 120, Monica’s/L.L. Pelling Company 96
After starting 0-2, Jill Armstrong has now pulled off an impressive pair of victories this week by a combined total of 49 points. The latter came Tuesday night, a 120-96 win over Monica’s/Pelling.
Leading the way for Jill Armstrong was former UNI guard Ali Farokhmanesh, who had 26 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Sophomore forward Zach McCabe shot 8-of-13 from the floor and finished with 23 points as well as five boards to help Jill Armstrong find itself alone in third place at 2-2.
As for Monica’s/Pelling, this marked its third straight loss of the summer. Sophomore guard Devyn Marble had a game-high 28 points on 10-of-23 shooting, as well as eight rebounds and seven assists. He also shot a perfect 7-of-7 from the foul line after only shooting 8-of-15 last weekend in a seven-point loss to Falbo/Culver’s. Senior forward Devon Archie finished with five points and six rebounds.
The Prime Time League will not take place on July 3, but will resume at the North Liberty Community Center on July 5, with two games taking place at 6 p.m. and one at 7:30 p.m. The nightcap is the battle between 4-0 Corner/Rivers and 3-1 Falbo/Culver’s.