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Knoxville Spoils Pella Christian Homecoming With Two Nail-Biting Victories Friday

Posted: Saturday, February 6th, 2016 at 6:01 am
Author: KNIA/KRLS Sports - Andrew Schneider and Derek Cardwell

Both games at Pella Christian’s home gym last night came down to crunch time, but it was the Panthers that walked away with a doubleheader sweep heard live on KNIA and KRLS.

Knoxville’s girls won on a buzzer-beating three by Ricki Hall–only the sixth she’s made all year, to topple the Eagles 51-50. Panthers Coach Jim Uitermarkt told KNIA/KRLS Sports it was a broken play that led to Hall’s game winner.

“We did have a talk in the huddle that if things don’t materialize like we want that we just need to take the ball and go to the hole,” he says. “Good for [Hall] to realize ‘uh oh, the play’s not working so I’m going to take it and go’ and they didn’t really challenge her too much and she knocked it down.”

The Panthers girls hung tough despite falling behind in the first quarter, which featured seven Eagles steals. Pella Christian held a few late leads, but Coach Kevin Van Maanen credits the Panthers’ experience edge as a big deciding factor.

“We played a Knoxville team that has a lot of experience, I know three of their ballplayers have been playing since they were freshmen, and they were the ones that did the most scoring for them tonight,” Van Maanen says.

Pella Christian’s boys made a 16-1 4th quarter rally and took a late lead after three quarters of dominance by the Panther boys, but Knoxville escaped with a 60-58 win. Coach Jeff Larson said he decided to not take a time out during the Pella Christian run to see if his players could endure it, and was pleased with their ability to recover.

“Trent and Blake hit big shots, you know, Trent went to the rim and made that free throw; Blake did a great job of hitting a three on a wide-open three, but we got penetration, got a wide-open look, and they knocked it down,” Larson says.

Eagles Coach Larry Hessing says his team’s play during that run was in stark contrast to the rest of the game, and hopes the big comeback attempt sparks something for his guys.

“We were shooting freely–there’s no substitution for made shots of course, and I just thought we were totally invested finally on the defensive end, and we got the game into a scramble mode,” he says. “So I’m really proud of the guys in terms of the way they came back.”

In the girls’ game, Knoxville was paced by 14 points from Hall and four three’s from Emily Wallace. PC’s Brooke Mitrisin scored 15 points, followed by Mary Kate Bandstra’s 14.

For the boys, the Eagles’ Levi Jungling led all scorers with 20 points and added 10 rebounds, and Caleb Roose buried four from downtown during the huge 4th quarter run. Trent Davis dropped 13, and Blake McClung and Ben Wallace each tallied 11 for the Panthers.

Knoxville’s girls are now 13-5 and the boys at 11-6, and both teams will travel to Pella High for a make-up rivalry matchup Monday night. Pella Christian’s boys are 8-9 and host Van Meter at 5 p.m. today, the 7-12 girls are off until Tuesday when they travel with the boys to Grinnell.