Knoxville and Pella High renew acquaintances on the hardwood tonight in Pella for a varsity doubleheader that features a pair of girls teams that will play each other twice in the span of five days. Knoxville girls’ head coach Jim Utiermarkt says his players have to be able to realize they can compete with Pella.
“It’s tough, sometimes, to convince a team that we’re going to go over there and think we have a chance, but I really feel like if we can find that four-quarter game like we have a few times this year, that we can hang right with them [Pella],” said Uitermarkt. “We’ll see what happens tonight.”
Lady Dutch head coach Jerod Garland isn’t without his own concerns as well. He says the Panthers have proven they are a much better team than the one Pella High beat by 25 points earlier this season.
“They [Knoxville] have been playing better basketball, and some of their scores definitely have caught my eye,” said Garland. “They were young and they’ve had a lot of injuries this year, so I think it’s all coming together for them right now. We will definitely have to be ready to go tonight.”
This is the final regular season game for both squads, who will face one another in Pella again on Wednesday night in the opening round of the Class 3A Regional Tournament. The boys’ game features a pair of teams eager to prove they are better than their Tuesday night games indicated. Pella High head coach Mark Core right now the coaching staff has turned over some of the responsibility for making improvements to the players themselves.
“The approach that we’ve taken is that we really try to get the guys engaged,” said Core. “Not to see that we [coaches] don’t have a role – because we obviously do – but I think that making sure the guys are mentally clued in to what’s going on and taking ownership is really important.”
Panthers’ head coach Jeff Larson knows how intense the Pella full court pressure will be, and wants his team to play smart against Pella tonight. The Little Dutch claimed a runaway 77-37 win in Knoxville way back on December 9th. You can hear the play-by-play of the games on AM 1320 KNIA and 92.1 fm KRLS, starting at 6:00 p.m. tonight.