NEWTON — After one quarter of play at Newton Friday night, it appeared that the Pella Christian Eagles might be in for a “oh no” night. Things were not going the way of the Eagles as the Red Birds ripped off a 19-7 lead in the first eight minutes.
It has often been said that good teams find a way to win and that is just what happened. The Eagles stayed by the stuff, ramped up the defense, went to work and the glass and started putting some shots down. The result was a 15-5 advantage in the second quarter to narrow the deficit to 24-22 at intermission.
The second quarter surge was buoyed by the long ball. Aiden Stoltz buried a three to start the surge and Levi Schelhaas drained a pair from behind the arc for a 9-0 run in the first four minutes. Meanwhile at the other end of the court, the Eagle defense shut the Cardinals out.
Schelhaas was feeling it, as he rifled in another three and a mid-range jumper before halftime. Bennett Spronk notched a free throw to complete the PC scoring in the second period.
The battle raged in the first six minutes of the third stanza and PC finally grabbed their first lead of the game on another long ball by Schelhaas at 29-28 with 5:04 left in the quarter. But Newton responded with a three ball by Jake Ingle and a rebound putback by Cael Swartz for a 33-29 Cardinal lead with 3:08 left in the third frame.
The stage was set for the defining moments of the game and it was “Eagle Time.” In the final three minutes of the quarter, the Eagles went on a 14-0 run and that famous large lady was warming up the vocal cords.
Schelhaas hit one of two free throws to start the run. Stoltz zipped in a triple, Eric Mulder knocked down a pair of free throws and sophomore spark plug, Tysen DeVries, connected on a breakaway and an acrobatic reverse layup. The quarter was completed with a steal and a layup by Schelhaas and a spin move in the lane by Mulder at the buzzer.
The Eagles extended the run to 19-0 as the fourth period began when Jaedon Huisman split the cords with a left-handed three ball and Mulder put down two more free throws. The Cardinals were reeling and there would be no recovery as PC coasted into the winner’s circle with a 54-41 win.
“This was a fun win for our group,” PC Coach JD Boer said. “Newton got off to a hot start, but I was really proud of how our guys responded. We stuck with the game plan, stayed composed, and then made some plays to keep us in the game. In the third quarter, we really took control of the game. Overall, I was happy with our defensive pressure and intensity and we did a great job of taking care of the basketball in the second half.
“Levi Schelhaas had a nice game and really kept us in it with some good shooting in the first half. Eric Mulder really played well on both ends of the floor. I also thought we had a productive night from our bench, which was good to see.”
Mulder and Schelhaas were both in double digits with 15 points apiece and DeVries was close with eight points. Mulder led the team on the glass with eight rebounds and he shared the steal leadership with Daniel Andringa and Stoltz with three steals each. Huisman was the assist leader with three.
The Eagles will host Knoxville on Monday and then it is back into the Little Hawkeye Conference Tuesday when they host Oskaloosa.
Pella Christian 7 15 21 11 - 54
Newton 19 5 9 8 - 41
Pella Christian scoring (FG FTM/FTA PTS) – Levi Schelhaas 5 1/4 15, Niko Schirz 1 2/4 4, Jaedon Huisman 1 0/0 3. Aiden Stoltz 2 0/0 6, Eric Mulder 5 5/8 15, Daniel Andringa 1 1/2 3, Tysen DeVries 3 2/5 8. Team 18 11/23 54. Three Point Goals (7) – Schelhaas 4, Stoltz 2, Huisman 1.
Pella Christian rebounds (23) – Mulder 8, Schirz 5, Andringa 5, DeVries 2, Spronk 1, Huisman 1, Schelhaas 1.
Pella Christian steals (14) – Stoltz 3, Mulder 3, Andringa 3, Schelhaas 2, Schirz 2, Spronk 1
Pella Christian assists (10) – Huisman 3, Schelhaas 2, Schirz 2, Stoltz 1, Mulder 1, DeVries 1.