The Pella Christian girls took control early and never looked back on their way to a convincing 70-39 win over Grinnell to stay perfect in LHC play last night, while the Eagle boys overcame a 22-point first quarter deficit, but came up short at the end in a 65-63 loss to the Tigers last night in Pella.
The Lady Eagles turned aggressive defense into a flurry of offense, forcing ten Grinnell first quarter turnovers to take an 18-7 lead after one quarter. They stretched their lead to 38-18 at halftime, and 55-29 after three quarters on their way to the win. The Eagles were hot from long range as they connected on nine three pointers, including four from Jasmin Schelhaas – who led all scorers with 18 points. Taylor Stursma added 17 points, 9 of which came at the free throw line, an effort which head coach Kevin Van Maanen praised. Pella Christian improved to 13-2 on the season and stayed unbeaten in the LHC at 8-0. They are off until Saturday when they step out of conference play to face Eddyville Blakesburg in a preview of a possible second round post season matchup.
In an intense nightcap, the Grinnell boys hung on to win a two-point thriller. The start couldn’t have been any better for Grinnell – or any worse for Pella Christian. The Eagles were held scoreless for the first four and a half minutes, while the Tigers jumped out to a 10-0 lead on their way to an eventual 28-6 advantage after just one quarter. Eagles’ head coach Larry Hessing said, “we just made mistake after mistake through the first quarter and a half, and it was hard to watch at times.” He added that is coaching staff “challenged the kids at halftime to really show what they could do.”
The players answered that challenge, as Pella Christian outscored the Tigers 40-26 in the second half thanks to a fiery defensive effort. Offensively they kept chipping away at the Tigers lead, eventually claiming a one-point lead with two minutes remaining; but it was short-lived. Trailing by two with just seconds remaining, the Eagles had one final chance to tie or win, but a three-point attempt was blocked by Grinnell as time expired. Caleb Morgan scored a game high 21 points while Dan Hessing added 13 and Caleb Van Weelden contributed nine points. The Eagles fall to 8-6 overall and 4-4 in the LHC. They travel to Gilbert for a non conference match up on Thursday.