PELLA — A packed gym on Eagle Lane made for an electric environment for the first Tulip City Showdown of 2023 on Friday night as Pella clashed with Pella Christian. The Dutch got off to a good start but it was the Eagle defense getting stops and closing out a big 53-41 win over their crosstown rivals.
“I feel like we were very composed in those big moments,” Pella Christian head coach JD Boer said. “Sometimes you don't really know how a group is going to respond until you're in that moment. I thought earlier this year we had a moment at Wilton where I was really impressed with our composure in the fourth quarter. Of course tonight at home, in this environment against this team, you never know. But our guys stay composed, we made our free throws and we were confident the whole way down the stretch.”
Pella had a good recipe for success early, they were containing Tysen DeVries on the offense end and Luke Hardman was getting it going from deep and at the line early with seven points to help the Dutch jump out in front 16-9 after one quarter of play.
But PC would make the adjustment and get DeVries going as a quick 7-0 run to open to first three minutes of the second tied the game at 16-16. Both sides would go back and forth for the next couple minutes before it was another big run by the Eagles, this time an 8-0 run, that would shift the momentum again with a tough DeVries layup giving PC a 24-21 halftime lead.
Both sides exchange blow for blow in the third quarter as turnovers kept Pella from a making a run of their own. No progress was made by either side as PC held a three-point lead heading into a wide-open fourth quarter.
But like the second quarter, it was the Eagle defense making it tough for the Dutch that would be the difference. DeVries slithered through for a tough layup before making a no-look pass to Josiah Vos to cap a 6-2 burst to push the PC lead to 46-38 with 3:18 to play. The Pella offense got a little stagnate against the Eagles’ length and Pella Christian was able to close out their first win against Pella since 2019 after the Dutch won the previous five matchups.
“Anytime you get a chance to play in an atmosphere like this, it's fun,” Boer said. “Those are memorable, high emotion games. It's awesome when you come out on top and you can go into the locker room and celebrate one. I'm just really happy for our guys to have that opportunity and have a special night.”
Neither team a particularly good shooting night as both teams were held under 40% from the field and combined to go 7-for-36 (19.4%) from three. Both did well at the free throw line with Pella going 13-of-17 and PC 14-of-20 but the big turnover margin favored the Eagles 18-6.
DeVries led Pella Christian with 21 points, five assists and three steals while Vos finished 10 points and five rebounds and Aiden Stoltz chipped in nine points, six rebounds and two assists.
“He loves the big moments,” Boer said of DeVries. “He wants to ball down the stretch and he wants to make some big plays. I love that about him, every team needs a guy like that. You need a guy that just wants to go make some plays and he was that for us tonight.”
Hardman had 20 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals to lead Pella while Romon Hugan was the other double digit scorer with 10 points, two rebounds and four steals.
“We were just too inconsistent on the offensive end tonight to be a quality basketball team on the road in our league,” Pella head coach Derek Schulte said. “When you turn it over 18 times, you're really limiting your chances and opportunities. Give PC credit, I thought defensively they made some things tough on us tonight.”
Pella (5-3, 3-2 LHC) will return home to host PCM (3-8) on Monday at 7:30 p.m. while Pella Christian (5-3, 3-2 LHC) will go on the road to face Knoxville (6-1) on Monday at 7:45 p.m.