PELLA — The fourth-ranked (3A) Pella Little Dutch were looking for a signature win to move them to 5-0 on the season and they got it. The ninth-ranked (4A) Ankeny Hawks, defending Class 4A champs paid a visit to Pella Tuesday night and the Hawks left smarting from a 68-64 loss.
Pella rode the red hot shooting of the dynamic duo of Karl Miller and Grant Nelson for the win. Miller was electric from behind the arc as he drained 7-of-9 shots from three-point land and Nelson added three more long balls. As a team Pella racked up 13 three balls.
The game was a back and forth affair with the two teams trading leads for the first two and one half quarters. Midway through the third period, Ryan Mace buried a three for a 42-41 Pella lead and the Dutch would not trail again. A three by Miller and a pair of free throws by Preston Rowe increased the Pella lead to 47-41, but Ankeny scored the final three points of the period to trail by 47-44 going into the final eight minutes.
In the final stanza, the two teams match basket for basket for the first four minutes. The Dutch had a pair of long balls from Miller and one each from Josh Warner and Nelson. Ankeny cut the deficit to two points with two minutes to go and they had to put Pella on the free throw line in an attempt to get the ball back. Pella responded with 9-of-10 free throws to seal the win and set off a celebration on the home court. Parker Elder and Miller each nailed both ends of a one and one while Mace canned three charity tosses and Nelson added a pair.
“This was a big win,” Pella coach Derek Schulte said. “I was so proud of the way the guys responded to Ankeny’s pressure. We spread to floor, valued the basketball and put pressure on them. Karl hit so many clutch threes and Grant complimented him so well. Our other guys didn’t score a lot, but they had the ability to find the hot hand for big assists.”
Miller led the Dutch with 27 points and Nelson chipped in with 15. Other key points also came from Mace with eight, Rowe with seven and Elder with six. Ryan Crandall led the Hawks with 20 points.
The 5-0 Little Dutch move back into Little Hawkeye Conference play Friday night when they travel to Newton to face a dangerous Cardinal team.
Ankeny 16 14 14 20 - 64
Pella 15 18 14 21 - 68
Pella scoring (FG FTM-FTA Pts) – Ryan Mace 2 3-4 8, Preston Rowe 2 2-2 7, Karl Miller 9 2-2 27, Josh Warner 1 0-0 3, Keegan Hansen 1 0-0 2, Parker Elder 2 2-3 6, Grant Nelson 4 4-4 15. Team 23 13-15 68. Three point goals (13) – Miller 7, Nelson 3, Mace 1, Rowe 1, Warner 1.
*Pella stats were not available by press time.