PELLA — When the result was still in doubt, it was the Pella defense that would shut the door and give the Dutch what would end up being a 73-44 victory over Newton in Thursday night’s substate semifinal.
Pella knew what it needed to do to beat the familiar Cardinals for a third time this season and they would execute that plan just how their coach wanted.
“Our thought our defensive pressure bothered them early and allowed us to get a few deflections and get a good start,” Pella head coach Derek Schulte said. “I thought our guys handled the atmosphere really well and played with great energy. Our keys of the game were defensively we had to be locked in for four quarters. I thought we did that, we held them to four in the fourth quarter. We had to win the battle of the boards and we were plus-15 on the glass. And then finally we had to value the basketball and we had 25 assists and only seven turnovers so we played a really good all around game against a very good team in Newton.”
Amongst the packed house in Pella, the Dutch would get out in front early with all five starters scoring midway through the first. The Pella defense would lead to early offense as the Dutch led 18-11 after one quarter.
Former Newton Cardinal Noah Allen had himself a big second quarter for the Dutch. He would knock down a three and a pull-up jumper before saving the ball from going out of bounds on his own end which would lead to a Grant Nelson three capping off a 9-2 Pella run to go ahead 29-13 early in the second.
Allen would finish with eight of his 10 points against his former team in the second quarter as Pella splashed seven triples in the first half to guide them to a 39-22 advantage at the break.
Newton would make the first adjustment of the second half as they began attack the rim with Trent Hamand scoring six quick points inside. Meanwhile, Pella got a little cold from outside but threes from Karl Miller and Grant Nelson kept the lead at double digits while the Dutch adjusted themselves and start going to the rim.
“I think you look at our team and because we shoot it so well from the perimeter, there’s time we can settle,” Schulte said. “I thought we were able to get refocused, start playing through the paint again and getting to the free throw line. Then all of a sudden you start knocking down a couple of threes after that. That’s something we have to continue to adjust to and we have to be a team that can score in multiple ways.”
The Cardinals would grab a little momentum by winning the third quarter and staying within striking distance at 54-40.
The first run of the quarter was going to shift the balance of the game in either direction. But it was the Dutch striking first and striking hard with Preston Rowe’s layup in transition finishing off an 8-0 run to start the fourth as Pella built their lead to 62-40.
Pella ended up being lights out on both ends as they outscored Newton 19-4 in the final quarter to run away with the game and secure a spot in the substate finals.
The Cardinals were led by Adam Mattes’ 12 points while Logan Schilling added 11 points.
Nelson led Pella with 20 points, two rebounds, four assists and three steals. Miller would add 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks while Parker Elder had a good all-around game with 11 points, eight rebounds, six assists, two steals and a putback slam to boot.
The fast moving game featured only 13 total fouls and five total free throws. Pella would dominate the glass 33-18 while dishing out 25 assists on 31 made baskets with only seven turnovers.
The win puts Pella one game away from their second straight state tournament appearance and what would be their 18th tournament appearance in school history. To get there, the Dutch will have to face another Little Hawkeye Conference foe in Grinnell on a neutral site.
“Regardless of who we are playing we have to continue to defend at a high level,” Schulte said. “Rebounding for a team that doesn’t have a big man is so important to us and then offensively keep doing what we do and making the unselfish play because we really like our guys and the strengths they bring to the table. If we’re willing to make that extra pass offensively, it will take care of itself.”
No. 5 Pella (21-2) will meet Grinnell (10-13) in Oskaloosa on Monday at 7 p.m. for the substate final and for a chance to punch their ticket to Des Moines.