WILLIAMSBURG — Williamsburg High School was the host for the Class 2A District 12 championship game between the unranked Eagles of Pella Christian and the No. 6 ranked Beavers of Wilton Community. The two teams met in Wilton just before the Christmas break and the Eagles got out of town with a six-point win. So for the Beavers and their fans, this game had been on their radar screen for some time. This time the game would mean a trip to the substate game and a possible state tourney berth.
The Eagles knew what to expect and they came out gunning from long range. A pair of three balls by Lincoln Vander Molen and one by Aiden Stoltz gave PC a 9-0 lead two minutes into the game. Finally the Wilton big guy, Caden Kirkman, sandwiched a pair of inside buckets around a drive through heavy traffic by Tysen DeVries. But Kirkman was whistled for his second foul on the following PC possession.
With Kirkman on the bench, the Eagles went inside for a basket by Josiah Vos and outside for a long ball by DeVries for a 16-4 lead.
Then the worm turned. The Eagles went scoreless for the final two minutes of the first period. Wilton coach Erik Grunder made the decision to put Kirkman back in the game and he was not called for a foul for the rest of the game. With Kirkman back in the game, Landyn Putman erupted for seven points and Kirkman added two more in a 9-0 Beaver run to close the gap to 16-13 after the first eight minutes.
In the first three minutes of the second quarter, the Beavers stunned the Eagle following with a 9-2 run to grab a 22-18 lead. Two inside buckets by Kirkman, a triple and a pair of free throws led Wilton. All the Eagles could muster would be an inside bucket by Jack Fancher.
PC was in desperate need of a spark and they found it in Stoltz. The senior sharpshooter drained a pair of shots from behind the arc and a pair of free throws for a 26-22 PC lead. Game on.
Then PC coach JD Boer sent his entire second unit into the game for a brief 90 second respite for his starters and it worked. Wilton’s Casen Reid nailed a three, but PC’s Landen Fransman grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back in the hole for two. Starters back, and Vander Molen rifled in a three while DeVries sliced through the middle for two and a 33-26 halftime lead.
The second half opened with tension in the air as thick as peanut butter. Devries rained a three through that tension for a 10-point Eagle lead, but Kirkman and his gang were not done. For the next three minutes the Beavers went on a 9-3 run to cut the deficit to four points at 39-35. A Stoltz triple accounted for the only PC points. That four-point difference remained intact as PC took a 46-42 lead into the final frame.
As the fourth quarter opened, DeVries cut through the middle for two and a six-point Eagle lead, but Wilton scored the next five points. DeVries answered with a long ball and an acrobatic reverse layup for another six-point PC lead with five minutes to go.
The Beavers then closed the game out with an 11-5 run to send the game into overtime. The only point the Eagles could come up with would be a rebound put back by Stoltz and an inside three-point play by Dane Geetings.
The Eagles came out on fire in the OT period as Stoltz splashed down a three from deep in the corner, DeVries drove down bloody nose lane for two and then canned a three for a 66-60 Eagle lead with 1:13 left in OT. A free throw by Reid and a triple by Kirkman cut the lead to two at 66-64 with 43 second left.
Gettings worked free on the inside for two and a 68-64 PC lead with 31 seconds left. Kirkman hit one of two free throws for Wilton and with 14 seconds left the Eagles missed the front end of a one and one. With 10 seconds left, Kirkman had two shots from behind the arc to tie the score, but both bounced off the rim. There was joy in the Eagle camp.
“This was perhaps the most stressful game I have ever coached,” Boer said. “We missed so many easy shots and yet we came up with some huge shots in critical times. Their big guy made us work. We had different guys on him throughout the game and they all did well. We just kept battling and we found a way. In going through our conference, our guys are definitely battle tested.”
DeVries led a trio of Eagles in double figures with 22 points and four assists. Stoltz was next with 21 points, a team high of six rebounds and three steals and three assists while Vander Molen chipped in with five points, three rebounds and three assists.
The 14-9 Eagles will face the Falcons of West Burlington Saturday night in Oskaloosa with a state tourney bid on the line.
Pella Christian 16 17 13 12 10 - 68
Wilton 13 13 16 16 7 - 65
Pella Christian scoring (FG FT-FTA Pts) – Tysen DeVries 9 0-0 22, Jack Fancher 1 0-1 2, Aiden Stoltz 7 2-3 21, Dane Geetings 2 1-1 5, Lincoln Vander Molen 4 0-0 12, Josiah Vos 2 0-0 4, Landon Fransman 1 0-0 2. Team 26 3-5 68. Three-point goals (13) – Stoltz 5, Devries 4, Vander Molen 4.
Pella Christian rebounds (28) – Stoltz 6, Geetings 5, Vander Molen 5, Vos 5, Isaiah Breems 2, DeVries 1, Fancher 1, Fransman 1, Isaac Kacmarynski 1, Caleb Van Arendonk 1.
Pella Christian steals (9) – Stoltz 3, Vander Molen 3, DeVries 1, Geetings 1, Vos 1.
Pella Christian assists (15) – DeVries 4, Stoltz 3, Vander Molen 3, Geetings 2, Fancher 1, Vos 1, Kacmarynski 1.
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