The Pella Christian varsity boys’ basketball team continued on the winning path Tuesday night, Jan. 13, when they defeated intra-county rival Knoxville 86-66.
“Knoxville has some nice players and is a good team,” Eagle Head Coach Larry Hessing said. “We played well offensively both in transition and in the half court. We passed the ball well and didn’t turn it over. When you do those things, it looks good!”
The Eagles jumped to an 11-4 lead over the Panthers through some strong shooting by Keean Cadwell and Isaiah Gritters. Pella Christian was hurting themselves with some calls, but the Panthers did not capitalize on them as well as they could have. Knoxville was down 16-6 with 1:25 left in the quarter. Pella Christian kept up the fight and ended the first on a long three-pointer by Dan Jungling to go up 21-6.
In the second, Knoxville stepped up its defense and worked to gradually cut down the lead. The Eagles were up 29-18 about three minutes in. Fouls helped keep Knoxville in the game, as not many Panther shooters had success finding the basket. With a lead of 37-22 with 3:32 left in the half, there were already three Eagles in double digits for scoring – Gritters, Cadwell and Jungling. Knoxville got hot from the outside as the half came to a close, but the Panthers were still down, 49-35.
Despite that gap, one which existed through most of the game, the Panther offense did not show much urgency. Their outside shooting went cold and could only just six points in the first seven minutes of the third. Pella Christian’s lead was 67-41 with 74 seconds left in the quarter. Overall, the Eagles shot and defended better than the Panthers in the third to go up 72-46 by the end of it.
Knoxville kept up the fight and continued to play hard, but could not overcome the double-digit deficit. The Eagles continued to move the ball and utilize many shooters. As time ticked away and coaches could see the likely outcome, bench players took the court. Pella Christian wins 86-66.
Kieren Nichols led the Panthers with 33 points. Spencer Hixson had 15, Luke Keitges nine, Cael Peterson seven, Alex Eckert three and Jaxon Zuck two.
For the Eagles, Jungling and Cadwell each finished with 15, Gritters 14, Levi Schelhaas with 11, Bryant Agre 10, Luke Mulder eight, Jase Amelse seven and Bradyn Zula three.
Pella Christian travels to Newton tonight (Jan. 14) and Knoxville hosts Clarke Friday (Jan. 17).