By Jess Westendorf
Roberts’ Gym at the North Liberty Community Center in Coralville was packed last night as fans filed in to see a glimpse of some future talent that could make impacts in Carver-Hawkeye Arena this coming season.
The main attraction seemed to be the last game of the night, a contest between Westport Touchless Autowash and Vinton Merchants that showcased Iowa’s newest Hawkeyes: freshmen Jack Nunge and Luka Garza.
To start off, the scoring between the two was insane.
Garza led the pack with 41 points and hauled in 10 rebounds. Nunge tallied 35 points and 13 rebounds.
Nunge’s Vinton squad pulled out a 98-97 win after Hawkeye Brady Ellingson hit a 3-pointer with 8.7 seconds left.
“We went out there and competed against some of the best guys in the state,” Nunge said. “We just went out there, we played hard, and we came out on top. It’s a good feeling.”
If Nunge were to receive any award after Sunday’s performance, it would be “Best All-Around Player.”
He showed that he can use his height to his advantage and still remain quick to the basket.
For the most part of the game he guarded Garza, and Nunge came on top each time. His defense was solid.
The ability he has to move quickly and avoid the defense was astounding.
“Jack is a great player,” Ellingson said. “He is a skilled guy and great to play with.”
As for Ellingson, he remained consistent throughout the game while scoring 25 points.
He showed improvement in driving to the basket. He stayed calm and collected but pulled out essential plays when needed.
Over the off-season, he used his time to practice with
“I have been working hard all off-season,” Ellingson said. “The opportunity is in front of me, and it’s not going to be given to me. I just have to go out there and work hard, play well, and be myself.”
Vinton comprises different players from Northern Iowa, Coe, and Kirkwood.
Garza showed incredible athleticism as well as emotion.
He might not be as agile as Nunge, but he is definitely explosive. Garza showed that he was quick on defense with great footwork in the paint.
On the offensive side, Garza showed mobility and confidence whether it was going to the rim or shooting a 3.
“Individually, I think I had a pretty good game,” he said.
After graduating June 12, Garza got on a plane, settled into his dorm, and the next day went straight into classes and practice.
“It’s been crazy,” Garza said. “It has come at me quick, and then I was ready for that. When I signed that letter of intent, that is what I came down here to do, so just coming down here I’m going to work as hard as I can and make the most of this opportunity.”