PELLA — The Eagles have put the clamps on defensively in their last few games and that didn’t change on Tuesday as they held their third straight opponent to 41 points or less in a 57-32 win over Oskaloosa.
“Our guys really locked in,” Pella Christian head coach JD Boer said. “We've been trying to mix up our defenses a little bit with our 2-3 zone. It's been really good for us because you put a lot of length at the rim and that was that was pretty disruptive for us here tonight. We just got to keep finding solutions to what the offense is showing us and that's kind of the challenge for us as a coaching staff, but I thought tonight was a really good step forward.”
The always competitive Indians got off to a solid start as Keaton Flaherty got the offense going with a three and a pair of tough buckets while PC was moving the ball inside-out to lead 10-7 with 2:07 left in the first.
But from there, it was all Eagles for the next 10 minutes of play as they rattled off a 21-6 run. It was a combination of switching between their zone and man-to-man defense while scoring from three early only to get back to dominating the paint later in the half with Eric Mulder towering for two-handed slams to put PC in front at the half, 31-13.
That deficit proved to be a tough one to come back from as the length continued to disrupt the Oskaloosa offense. What looked like a steal and run out for an easy layup turned into a highlight by from Mulder who raced back and spiked the layup off the glass to turn it the other way for a Levi Schelhaas three followed by another three from Aiden Stoltz to cap the third quarter in favor of the Eagles, 48-22.
Both teams emptied the bench during the fourth quarter as PC rolled to their second convincing win in as many nights. After dominating the paint the night prior against Knoxville, coach Boer was happy to see a more balanced approach from his squad against Osky with eight three-pointers.
“Last night, we scored 60 points in the paint,” Boer said. “Tonight was a lot less. We had to rely on the three-point shot a little bit more. But that's good, teams play us differently and Oskaloosa kind of pack the paint a little bit and double teamed us on the block. So we kicked out for threes and I don't know what we shot, maybe it wasn't great, but we made enough of them and so that's good to see.”
10 different Eagles scored in the game led by Mulder’s 10 points while Schelhaas finished with 11 points. Flaherty, the conference’s leading scorer, led the Oskaloosa offense with his 18 points.
The win was PC’s six in their last seven games to improve to 9-2 and 4-2 in conference play. They will face another hot 9-2 team on Thursday in what will be not only an important conference game but a big-time rivalry game against No. 6 (3A) Pella, who are winners of their last seven games.
“It's a fun one for the community,” Boer said of playing Pella. “It's a fun one for our guys, certainly one that they're looking forward to. We’re just locked into just continuing to improve and that's what I talked about in the locker and afterwards. We've found some momentum, but now let's keep improving. I think especially on the offensive end of the floor, you know Pella has a team that can really score the ball. So we'll be working offensively to keep finding ways to put the ball in the hole.”
Pella Christian (9-2, 4-2 LHC) will go to No. 6 (3A) Pella (9-2, 5-1 LHC) on Thursday at 7:45 p.m. while Oskaloosa (2-8, 0-6 LHC) will host Grinnell (3-7, 0-6 LHC) on Friday at 7:45 p.m.