PELLA — The Pella Christian Eagles rang in the New Year on Saturday with some afternoon basketball against the second-ranked (3A) Lions of Des Moines Christian. Pella Christian, who was without head coach Brad Engbers due to COVID, gave them a good fight and were within five midway through the fourth before the Lions would pull away with the 54-39 win.
Outside of three different big runs for Des Moines Christian, the Eagles played possession for possession with the highly-ranked Lions.
The first big run came right off the tip with DMC jumping out in front 7-0 behind good ball movement and early turnovers from the Eagles. Turnovers would hurt PC for most of the day as they finished with 24 while only attempting 36 shots.
After the early timeout, Pella Christian responded well. They worked the ball inside-out, finding Allison Van Gorp inside for six first quarter points while Emma Witzenberg, Emri Agre and Joslyn Terpstra all knocked down a three to cut the deficit to 16-15 after one.
But just like the first, Des Moines Christian controlled the opening minutes of the second quarter, using a 10-0 run to go up double digits. The Lions turned Eagle turnovers into easy runouts as PC would try to limit the damage, trailing 30-21 at the half.
A couple more triples from the Eagles in the third quarter saw them cut it to 41-34 heading into the final quarter with PC still well within the distance of a potential upset.
Pella Christian looked to have the momentum as they cut it to five midway through the fourth quarter. That momentum shifted quickly to the Lions.
First Blayne Ingram would get a second chance bucket attacking the glass. Then Des Moines Christian would force another Eagle turnover with Moriah Prewitt coming back the other way with a nice pass to an open Kate Muller, who knocked down two huge threes in the quarter, rapidly pushing the Lion lead back to 10 with four minutes left.
After pulling within five, DMC would close out the last four-plus minutes of the game on 10-0 run to escape with the win.
Prewitt, a Northern Illinois commit, led Des Moines Christian with 20 points while Muller added 15 points.
Van Gorp would lead the charge for Pella Christian, nabbing another double-double with 16 points, 12 rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block. Agre and Terpstra both chipped in six points.
Pella Christian (4-4, 0-3 LHC) returns to conference play on Tuesday at 6:15 p.m. when they travel to No. 6 (4A) Dallas Center-Grimes (7-2, 2-1 LHC).