Another spirited fourth quarter comeback gave the Pella boys basketball team a shot at returning to the State Tournament, but a few bad bounces in the final seconds saw the game slip away from the Little Dutch as Mount Pleasant held on for a 43-42 win in Monday night’s Class 3-A Substate round in Ottumwa.
Trailing by one point with under 30 seconds to go, Mount Pleasant corralled a long offensive rebound off of a missed free throw which resulted in a lay-up to put the Panthers up by one. After a timeout, Pella had just over 12 seconds to run one final play to win the ball game, but Mount Pleasant’s perimeter defense forced the Little Dutch up the middle of the floor, ultimately leading to the game-ending turnover as time expired.
Pella Head Coach Mark Core said while the timing of the game’s final play did not unfold in Pella’s favor, it was by no means the definitive moment of the game.
“I think in retrospect we just took a little bit too much time getting that play started, and as a result it got a little rushed and flustered at the end,” said Core. “But a game doesn’t come down to one play. We had lots of opportunities to score easy baskets in the first half and in the third quarter; we just didn’t turn it on early enough into the fourth quarter.”
In fact, after a lackluster five-point third quarter, Pella trailed Mount Pleasant by as many as 13 points early in the game’s final period; which came as a bit of a surprise after the two teams dueled to a 16-16 halftime score in a match-up of two very solid defensive teams.
Pella found opportunities at the free throw line and on drives to the lane in the final quarter, though, as Lucas Boyd and Nick Dorman slashed their way to the basket for several clutch points to climb back into the game and put the pressure back on the Panthers. Still, Mount Pleasant got the break it needed on the missed free throw and scored the game’s final basket, before letting their defense preserve the victory.
Boyd led all players with 12 points, while teammates Kyle Newendorp and Chris Bandstra added 8 points apiece. Mount Pleasant’s Scott Hahn – who put in the game-winning lay-up – and Nick Lyon each finished with 11 points to lead the Panthers.
The loss ends an impressive run for the Pella boys at 19-4 overall for the season. Mount Pleasant will face MOC-Floyd Valley next Wednesday in the State Quarterfinals in Des Moines.