GRINNELL — Road wins in the Little Hawkeye Conference are hard to come by and the Pella Christian Eagles found that to be so true when they tangled with the Grinnell Tigers in their den Friday night.
It appeared to be an Eagle run away in the early going. Three minutes into the second quarter PC had built a 32-15 lead. But then the shots stopped falling and the Tigers began to chip away at the lead. By halftime the deficit had shrunk to 10 points at 33-23. After three quarters the lead was 48-41 and with a minute to go in the game only two points separated the two teams at 56-54.
The Eagles needed someone to step up and save the day. The rescue party came at the free throw line where PC buried five of six free throws in the final minute to seal the deal. First it was Eric Mulder with one of a pair, then Levi Schelhaas notched a pair and the finishing touch was provided by Luke Mulder with two free shots with 12 seconds left in the game.
“It wasn’t always pretty, but I was proud of our guys for finding a way to hang in there for a great Little Hawkeye Conference road win,” Pella Christian coach JD Boer said. “This is a great conference and it will be like this every night. We had a hot start and that was good to see. The game tightened up through the second half and you have to give credit to Grinnell for coming back.
“I thought we had great production from our big guys. Niko Schirz really played well, coming up some big buckets and rebounds when we needed them. Eric Mulder has continued to score the ball, get some big boards and block shots around the rim. We had to change our schedule due to COVID and now we are looking forward to hosting a good Ottumwa team Tuesday night to finish up before the Christmas break.”
That early hot start featured four three point baskets in the first quarter to open up a 21-15 lead. Those threes came from Lucas Hol, Jaedon Huisman, Eric Mulder and Daniel Andringa. Then the Eagles hit an 11-0 run to start the second stanza. In that run, Schelhaas rained in a pair of threes, Bennett Spronk added a bucket and a free throw and Eric Mulder canned a pair of free throws.
Schirz was very active around the rim and his presence was very evident late in the third quarter. Schirz powered home a pair of tip ins, put one in from close range and then went out beyond the arc and swished a three. Schirz also had a pair of big baskets late in the fourth period to keep the Tigers at bay.
Schirz led a trio of Eagles in double digits with 16 points while Eric Mulder nailed 15 points and Schelhaas added 11. Grinnell also had a trio of double figure scorers in Owen Coffman with 17, AJ Wilkins with 13 and Brooks Latimer with 11.
Ottumwa will replace EBF on Tuesday night for an interesting non-conference battle on Eagle Lane.
Pella Christian 21 12 15 13 - 61
Grinnell 15 8 18 13 - 54
Pella Christian scoring (FG FTM-FTA Pts) – Nico Schirz 7 1-2 16, Levi Schelhaas 2 5-6 11, Jaedon Huisman 1 0-0 3, Bennett Spronk 2 1-2 5, Daniel Andringa 1 0-0 3, Lucas Hol 2 0-2 5, Luke Mulder 0 2-3 2, Eric Mulder 5 4-6 15. Team 20 14-24 61. Three point goals (7) – Schelhaas 2, Schirz 1, Huisman 1, Andringa 1, Hol 1, E. Mulder 1.
Pella Christian rebounds (31) – E. Mulder 8, Schirz 6, Schelhaas 3, Hol 3, Huisman 2, Andringa 2, L. Mulder 2, Spronk 1.
Pella Christian steals (7) – Schirz 4, Spronk 2, Schelhaas 1.
Pella Christian assists (12) – Hol 5, Schelhaas 2, Aiden Stoltz 2, Schirz 1, L. Mulder 1, Caden Van Dyke 1.