PELLA — The Dutch return to the hardwood this winter as the defending 3A state champions as they will return two starters from that squad and a plethora of up and coming talent that will look to get them back to Wells Fargo Arena.
Seniors Parker Elder and Karl Miller return to the Pella starting lineup while Noah Allen, Preston Rowe and Keegan Hansen also return to the rotation.
Elder, a Morningside commit, brings his bounce back to the gym for Pella after averaging 7.2 points on 50.3% shooting from the floor to go with 4.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He will figure to be one of the team’s top on ball defenders with his athleticism complementing the team’s shooting well.
The sharpshooting Miller returns after averaging 15.7 points per game on 50% shooting from the field and 42.5% from three to with 5.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game that helped him earn second team all-state honors. Don’t be surprised if he increases his clip and leads the team in scoring this season.
Allen served as a spark plug six man off the bench for Pella but the Mount Mary commit figures to enter the starting lineup after averaging 12.3 points on 47.1% shooting and 42.9% from three along with 1.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He already showed he can shine on the big stage as the point guard led Pella with 19 points off the bench in the title game last year.
Rowe brings some toughness inside and can finish around the rim shooting 52.1% last year while Hansen brings length at the wing as well as shooting as he could see more minutes this winter.
“We return experience, athleticism and productivity on the offensive end of the floor,” Schulte said. “Our ability to stretch the floor with our shooting and play at a high pace allows us to have the potential to be a good team on the offensive end of the floor. We also believe we are developing depth this year to play different roles for us.”
Outside of those five, Pella will look elsewhere for other guys to step up and earn playing time. Ethan Quayle, Jrake VanHemert, Ayden Gordon, Luke Hardman and Romon Hugan were all letter winners a year ago and could fill those rolls while newcomers Chase Lauman, Trey VanHauen, Cam Schulte, Mitchell Miller, Brayden Traetow and Luke Keitges could also bid for playing time.
Pella will look for some of those guys to help replace not just the scoring of former seniors Grant Nelson, Josh Warner, Ryan Mace and Caleb VanSant, but also the intangibles that helped them bring home a state title.
“We need to replace great leadership and toughness from last year’s senior class,” Schulte said. “I am looking forward to watching our current seniors develop in these roles and take the next step not only on the floor but as leaders of this team. We do not have big size so defending the rim and rebounding will need to be a point of emphasis for us. I do like the length of our team from the guard and forward positions.”
The Dutch had one of the top offenses in 3A last year at 69.6 points per game and 18.5 assists per contest. The three point line will be important again as they led 3A in three-point attempts but they also made them at a high clip at 38.2%, second best in 3A.
Much like last year, Pella figures to have a very guard/wing heavy team without many traditional bigs. Team rebounding and paint defense will certainly be important to go along with their potent offense.
The defending Little Hawkeye Conference champs should also have a tough journey in conference play with several big time players returning. Pella was 13-1 in conference play with that one loss coming to Dallas Center-Grimes.
“The LHC is loaded this year with both high end players and teams,” Schulte said. “It is one of the best conferences in the state and will be extremely competitive. I believe 4-5 teams will be ranked most of the year and every team in the league is capable of winning on any given night. This league will prepare us for the postseason run.”
Pella looks to have the guys for another strong season for head coach Derek Schulte, who is 76-26 in his four years with the Dutch. The green and white seem eager for the challenge of defending the title as should improve towards that mark as the season progresses.
“We look forward to the opportunity to earn success this year,” Schulte said. “We know it will be challenging every night and want to make sure we continue to improve as a team over the course of the season. We want to be playing our best basketball in February and March.”