PELLA — The Pella Christian boys basketball team is facing a major turnover this season after losing 11 seniors from a veteran team that finished 13-11 and made a run to the state tournament quarterfinals. On top of that, they will be christening in a new head coach in JD Boer, who comes over from Sioux Center where he served as assistant men’s basketball coach and head JV coach at Dordt College.
“We have nice depth in our program that will allow our guys to compete and grow into their roles throughout the year,” Boer said. “Our biggest strengths are probably our size and athleticism. We can put big lineups on the floor that can match up well with most teams. Our athleticism will also allow us to be a team that can get out and run and make some plays in transition.”
Leading the bigs department will be the Mulder boys, Luke and Eric Mulder. They are two of the four returning boys to the team this season as Luke saw action in 11 games and Eric saw the court in six games.
The 6-foot-5 Luke Mulder shot at a high percentage last year at 62.9% from the floor while averaging 4.2 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. Eric Mulder, who stands a little bit taller at 6-foot-7, shot 53.8% from the field and averaged 3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. Those two could lead the bigs and be matchup problems down low for many teams.
Also returning for the Eagles is junior guard Levi Schelhaas and senior guard Caden Van Dyke.
Schelhaas was a consistent player off the bench for PC a year ago, playing in 19 of their 24 games. He would average 4.2 points on 43.5% shooting from the floor and 30.8% from beyond the arc. Van Dyke played in just seven games last season and could be in line for a bigger role this season.
Joining those four returnees will be a big group of juniors that should give Boer some different options and depth.
“We have a strong junior class of nine guys that will have an opportunity to step up and play a larger role this year,” Boer said. “I think we have depth and balance that will allow us to play a lot of guys and have a lot of guys produce for us this year.”
The Eagles will likely spend much of the first couple of games of the season figuring out roles and the rotation before settling in later in the season.
“Our biggest weakness right now is simply inexperience,” Boer said. “Our guys are hungry, but we have a lot to learn about what it takes to compete at the varsity level. We have a lot to learn in that regard.”
Last season saw PC finish 5-9 in conference play, good enough for fifth. Norwalk and Indianola both finished 12-2 to lead the LHC, which loses a bit of star power this year with Oskaloosa’s Xavier Foster heading to Iowa State and Norwalk’s Bowen Born going to UNI. That being said, the LHC still looks to be tough again this season.
“Playing in the Little Hawkeye Conference, we'll always have a tough schedule,” Boer said. “There are a lot of really good coaches and good programs in this league that seem to reload with talent every year. We will have our work cut out for us every time we hit the floor. We will need to compete at a high level every game, which should prepare us well for tournament time.”