By Brendan Stiles
NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa – Aaron White hasn’t even played a game for the Iowa Hawkeyes yet, but the freshman forward is already providing lasting memories.
White’s lay-up along the baseline as time expired lifted No. 3 Falbo Bros Pizza/Culver’s of Coralville to the 2011 Prime Time League championship Sunday night as it defeated top-seeded Coach’s Corner/Two Rivers Bank & Trust, 100-99, inside the Roberts Gym at the North Liberty Community Center.
Falbo/Culver’s regained possession with 25.7 seconds remaining following a Corner/Rivers turnover. Following a missed 3-pointer, there was a scramble for the loose ball and senior guard Matt Gatens came away with it for Falbo/Culver’s. From there, point guard Andre Murphy made the quick outlet to White, who went with the finger-roll to the hoop.
“I got to give it up to my teammates. Murphy and Gatens dove for the ball, Murphy threw it up to me,” White said. “I knew I had about three seconds left, so I just kind of flipped it up and it went in.”
Falbo/Culver’s took the PTL crown this summer despite losing the first meeting to Corner/Rivers back on July 5 and having to play three playoff games after losing a tiebreaker for the No. 2 seed.
White, who played in all 10 of his team’s PTL games this summer, finished with a game-high 26 points on 8-of-16 shooting and also collected four rebounds. Also playing for Falbo/Culver’s in winning the league title were Gatens, who had 16 points, and sophomore forward Melsahn Basabe, who finished with a double-double of 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Corner/Rivers led most of the first half and was up by as many as 12 points. But in the half’s final two minutes, Falbo/Culver’s went on a 9-1 run to take a 56-55 lead into halftime.
With the game tied at 64-64 in the second half, senior walk-on guard Jordan Stoermer hit a 3-pointer to put Corner/Rivers ahead, and it appeared as though it would run away with the championship despite missing its top two players in UNI’s Anthony James and Anthony Hubbard, who left the Iowa men’s basketball program on July 14. UNI’s Chip Rank led the way in scoring with 23 points for Corner/Rivers, while Stoermer had seven points and three rebounds.
Falbo/Culver’s would climb back and was ahead 96-94 before a 3-pointer by Rank put Corner/Rivers ahead by one. Corner/Rivers would later get a 3-point play opportunity, but was unable to knock down the free throw, keeping it at a one-possession game.
White sank a pair of free throws to cut the Falbo/Culver’s deficit to 99-98 before Corner/Rivers wasted what turned out to be its last possession before the chaos that led to White’s game-winning bucket ensued.
“We had a lot of talent on our team, but to play like that, hustle play is what wins games,” Gatens said.
Now with the Prime Time League behind them, White, Gatens, Basabe and the rest of their Iowa teammates now turn their attention to the fall and the Hawkeyes’ upcoming 2011-12 season.
“It seemed like [last season] had just ended, and now summer’s over,” Basabe said. “Now is the next step. We got to get it done this year on the court.”