PELLA — The tenth-ranked (3A) Pella boys rang in the new year on Tuesday by getting back into Little Hawkeye Conference action as they welcomed Oskaloosa to town. The Indians would battle and hang around but the Dutch were able to come away with a 64-47 winner.
The first quarter for all intents and purposes was the game-changer in this one as Pella rocketed out to an early lead with Noah Allen splashing home a corner three to force an Osky timeout with the Dutch leading 11-2 midway through the first. Allen would score points in the first quarter alone as his team led 16-3 going into the second.
Oskaloosa was able to make some nice adjustments in the second quarter and were able to keep Pella from gaining any more momentum as their defense would be tough to finish the half. The Indians would win the quarter 9-7 and were able to stay within range at the break trailing 23-12.
“I thought the first quarter we were really good, I thought defensively we're locked in, brought great energy and got out with a little pace were able to spread the floor,” Pella head coach Derek Schulte said. “That second quarter went sideways on us for a variety of reasons. Osky was competing hard and it was a physical game, too. We had opportunities at the rim that we didn't take advantage of. Really the major adjustments were to stay poised and stay in the moment. This is the Little Hawkeye Conference. Regardless who you're playing, it's going to be a tough night.”
The two teams played fairly even in the second half but Oskaloosa was never able to put together a big enough run to get close in single digits. Both teams had an answer for one another but it was Pella leading 42-26 going to the fourth.
Keaton Flaherty got going in the fourth with a nine-point quarter while Aidan Scholes knocked down a couple of threes off the bench but it was not enough as Pella kept scoring as well on their way to the 17-point victory.
“We had to make sure our defense leads the way and I thought it did that in the second half,” Schulte said. “We played better in spurts but we weren't consistent, unfortunately. That's what we're striving to be in that second half. We did a better job of our spacing. We had 10 assists in that second half, we just had too many turnovers. It looked like first night after break. There was some sloppiness to it but there's some things that we can build on from it.”
Allen would lead Pella with 19 points, two rebounds, two assists and one steal on 6-of-13 shooting including 5-of-10 from three.
“I thought Noah got us off to a great start in the first half and then got us going in that second half as well,” Schulte said. “He’s really improved defensively and he's done a nice job on the other team’s point guard. Him turning into a two-way player will be a big piece for us.”
Karl Miller would finish with 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals while Preston Rowe and Parker Elder both added nine points.
Flaherty finished with a team-high 15 points for Oskaloosa while the Indians got great production off their bench with 18 bench points led by Scholes’ 10 points.
Pella improves to 3-1 in conference play while Oskaloosa fell to 0-4. The Dutch get a huge matchup on Friday when they travel to No. 1 Dallas Center-Grimes, who they edged out by one game to win the conference title last season.
“It sounds like coach speak but in our league, you really do feel like every night you got to go out and play well, and if you don't want to, there's an opportunity you're gonna get beat,” Schulte said. “Friday night is one where you have to play well to be in a game on on the road against number one. We're looking forward to that opportunity. It's not going to be easy, it's going to be a great challenge for us against an excellent team and a well-coached team.”
No. 10 (3A) Pella (6-2, 3-1 LHC) will make the trip to face No. 1 (3A) Dallas Center-Grimes (6-1, 4-0 LHC) on Friday at 7:45 p.m. while Oskaloosa (2-6, 0-4 LHC) returns home to host Indianola (4-3, 2-2 LHC) on Friday at 7:45 p.m.