Pella Christian’s boys basketball team entered Tuesday night’s home game with Pella High eager to prove that they were better than the team the Little Dutch defeated on January 13th, and quickly did just that, turning an impressive second-half performance into a 65-51 home court victory.
“It’s always a huge win when you beat your cross-town rival,” said Pella Christian head coach Larry Hessing, “and for those seniors especially, it’s a game they’re going to remember for a long time and talk about for a long time, so it’s a special night for them.”
Following three quarters of tightly contested basketball, Pella Christian took control of the game in the final eight minutes with a 16-4 scoring run to close out the game. The Eagles had a chance to put the game away early, leading by as many as ten points in the second quarter, but the Little Dutch made a run before the half to draw the score to within two points by intermission.
From there, Pella Christian used a combination of strong interior defense, a diverse offensive attack and gritty rebounding to take ownership of the game. The Eagles held a 41-23 advantage on the glass, with Caleb Van Weelden pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds to go alongside 9 points.
Pella High head coach Mark Core said losing the rebounding margin, as well as the turnover battle, weighed heavily on the outcome of the game.
“We were minus-one in the turnover margin, [and] the rebounding margin was extremely ugly,” said Core. “They [Pella Christian] got a lot more offensive possessions, they were more offensively efficient, and that’s where a 14-point margin comes from.”
Caleb Morgan’s 17 points tied for the most of any player, and Dan Hessing poured in 16 points for the Eagles; who improved to 12-6 overall and 7-4 in the Little Hawkeye Conference with the victory. They’ll travel to Norwalk Thursday night.
Pella High was led by Jace Versteeg’s 17 points and 8 rebounds. The Little Dutch are now 11-7 overall and slip to 8-3 against league opponents. Pella High hosts Knoxville on Friday night.