Pella Christian

Pella Christian will be a senior-led team with nearly everyone returning from last year's squad.

PELLA — There is a lot of optimism around Eagle Lane for the boys basketball team this winter. JD Boer enters his second season as head coach of Pella Christian and is looking to improve off a 12-12 record that saw his team bow out in the district finals. The Eagles will have a good chance to make a leap forward this year as they return all five starters and only lose two seniors from the rotation.

“We’re excited about this group. We have a strong group of returners from last year who are eager to improve upon our performance from a year ago,” Boer said. “We will benefit this season from having great size across the board. In the post and on the wing, we have great length and athleticism. I think this will allow us to really put pressure on teams through our interior play. Rebounding should be a strength for this team.”

PC will enjoy the return of seven seniors including Eric Mulder, Levi Schelhaas, Niko Schirz, Jaedon Huisman, Bennett Spronk, Danny Andringa and EJ Fransman along with junior Aiden Stoltz.

Mulder, a 6-foot-8 Purdue Fort Wayne commit, figures to lead the Eagles this season after coming off of a first team all-conference effort last year, averaging 14.2 points per game on 61.8% shooting from the field and 33.3% from three to go with 9.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.6 blocks per game.

Schelhaas is back at point guard after earning second team all-conference honors a year ago when he averaged 12.6 points, 3.1 assists and 1.6 rebounds per game. His speed and quickness will be a good complement to the plethora of size on the roster that features 11 players at least 6-foot-3.

Also back from the starting lineup a year ago is 6-foot-7 forward Schirz, who brought great energy and was efficient averaging 7.3 points on 61.5% shooting with 5.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Huisman, a sharpshooting 6-foot-5 guard, will return some outside firepower after averaging 6.7 points on 36.5% shooting from beyond the arc.

Spronk (6-foot-3 guard that started eight games last year), Andringa (6-foot-5 guard), Stoltz (6-foot guard) and Fransman (6-foot-7 forward) figure to also find themselves in the rotation along with a couple of other guys that could fight for some playing time.

“We also have really good depth on this roster,” Boer said. “I feel good about some of the younger guys who have made their way up to the varsity roster and the progress that they have made. It will make for some fun, competitive practices.”

It was a tale of two seasons for the Eagles a year ago. They started off slow, going 2-6 in their first eight games before finishing 10-6 in their final 16. They averaged 61.3 points per game, which was good for fourth in the Little Hawkeye but they gave up an average of 60.4 points which was last in the LHC. Boer knows that improvement on defense and limiting turnovers on offense will be key if they want to make the jump this winter.

“I’d like to see us continue to grow on the defensive end,” Boer said. “We have some difficult teams to match up with in the LHC, so we will always be challenged on that end of the floor. Looking back to last year, we really struggled taking care of the ball, so that’s another area of emphasis that we will need to continue to work on.”

Pella Christian was fifth in the Little Hawkeye Conference last year with a 6-8 mark. The conference figures to be tough again with defending 4A champions Pella along with Dallas Center-Grimes and Indianola all returning a lot of talented players. It should be another great test for the Eagles to get them ready for 2A postseason play.

“The Little Hawkeye Conference is always tough, and this year is no different,” Boer said. “The top three teams from last year - Pella, Indianola, and DC-G, each return a lot of quality athletes that will make this league once again one of the best in the state. I also think the league will be deeper this year with some younger teams like ourselves that return a lot of their roster. We’ll be challenged, but it’s a challenge that we’re looking forward to. We’re hoping to improve upon our record from a year ago, get off to a good start, and hopefully be playing our best basketball at the end of the year.”

Colin Peters can be reached at 641-672-2581, by email at cpeters@oskyherald.com or on Twitter @ColinPetersOH.

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