Pella Christian’s varsity basketball teams looked impressive in Newton Tuesday night, notching respective 69-30 and 68-53 wins over the host Cardinals in Little Hawkeye Conference play.
Any shred of doubt that the Lady Eagles would not extend their five-game win streak was vanquished in the first three offensive series for Pella Christian, as Christina Nolte opened the game with back-to-back three-pointers, and Jasmin Schelhaas nailed a third to put the Lady Eagles up 9-0 in the blink of an eye. Pella Christian led 26-5 by the end of the quarter, and the rest of the game saw them continue to grow their lead to as wide as 46 points.
Lady Eagles’ head coach Kevin Van Maanen said his team’s focus from the onset of the night paved the way for the runaway win.
“I thought our girls came into the game with good intensity, good focus; because the last game we played, I didn’t think we did a very good job of that. Tonight, we stressed that,” said Van Maanen. “I thought we played very good defense, took care of the boards, got the running game going and got the three-point shot going.”
Schelhaas had a game-high 15 points, Nolte added 13, and Sami Veenstra played very well at both ends of the floor – finishing with 12 points and 7 rebounds in the winning effort. The Pella Christian girls are now 15-2 overall and 9-0 in the conference.
Newton’s boys continued to display the progress they’ve made in the latter portion of the season in the nightcap, as they challenged Pella Christian for the lead throughout the games’ first three quarters. With starters Blake Riggen and Caleb Van Weelden on the bench in foul trouble, the Cardinals whittled Pella Christian’s lead down to just one point as the end of the third quarter neared, but then Dan Hessing responded with eight points in the final 90 seconds of the period to put the Eagles up nine points entering the fourth quarter.
“Newton was closing the gap on us, and we were a little shaky on offense – at best – there in the third quarter with those guys out, and Dan hit a three there in the corner when they [Newton] went to a zone defense; [and] we found him open,” said Pella Christian head coach Larry Hessing. “His offense in that stretch of the second half was a big turning point for us.”
Newton would never seriously threaten Pella Christian’s lead again, and the Eagles would close out the game with easy baskets off of the Cardinals’ full-court press. Dan Hessing finished the game with a game-high 24 points.
Now 10-6 overall and 5-4 in the conference, the win gives the Pella Christian boys back-to-back victories for the first time since January 10th, when they defeated Oskaloosa after ripping Newton to open the 2012 portion of the schedule. Coincidentally, they’ll host the Indians on Friday night in a girl/boy doubleheader to try and continue to build on respective win streaks for both squads.