It’s a huge night for high school basketball in Pella tonight as Pella Christian hosts Pella in a girl/boy doubleheader for round one of the cross town rivalry. The Pella girls basketball team is shooting for six consecutive wins tonight, but they’ll have to get past rival Pella Christian on the Lady Eagles home floor to get it. Pella Head Coach Jerod Garland says his offense will be challenged by the variety of defensive sets that Pella Christian could employ in the game.
“They [Pella Christian] throw a few different looks at you defensively,” says Garland. “They have a box press that they run very well, they can also do a diamond, they can trap you in the back court, and then their half court man-to-man [defense] is just very solid. They’re going to make it very tough for us to score.”
Pella Christian is coming off a big win over Newton Tuesday in which the girls showed improvements in several areas. Eagles Head Coach Kevin Van Maanen says Pella is very experienced and will present several challenges his defense will have to be ready for.
“They [Pella] bring a lot of experience with their guards so they’re not going to get rattled easy but we still need to apply the pressure,” says Van Maanen. “Offensively we’ve got to be sharp and crisp, we should be able to match up well in the post, but they are very balanced across the board, all five players could score 10 [points] or more if they wanted; so that’ll keep our defense honest all night long.”
Both coaches agree that the team that can settle down, zone out the crowd and concentrate on playing their game will have the advantage. Pella is 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the Little Hawkeye Conference and with a win would head into the holiday break in no worse position than tied for the conference lead with Knoxville. Pella Christian is 4-4 overall and 3-1 in the LHC and hopes to get a win to stay in the hunt in the conference race heading into the holidays.
The boys game features the top two teams in the Little Hawkeye Conference and should be one of the best match-ups in recent years between the two teams. After soundly defeating Grinnell 55-42 on the Tigers’ home floor Tuesday night, the Pella boys basketball team knows they will face likely their toughest opponent yet tonight. Little Dutch Head Coach Mark Core says his team’s gameplan will remain the same, and recognizes the quality of the Eagles’ program.
“It’s [our approach] not going to change. We’re going to try to take away the paint, we’re going to try to contest shooters, and block out. Offensively, we’re going to try and run the floor, get into our motion game, that’s about as complicated as we’re going to get,” says Core. “We just know that Pella Christian’s a great program. They’ve got a great coach, [and] players every year just seem to come out of nowhere and become stars; so we’re going to have to figure out a way to slow those guys down.”
Pella Christian Coach Larry Hessing also praised Pella and said they know they are in for a battle to the finish tonight.
“I know Pella is going to be a great basketball team. They always play good defense and bring a lot of intensity and energy which is a direct reflection of their coach,” says Hessing. “They have some good athletes in both the junior and senior classes, [and] these guys have played each other before and it’s always been close and intense. I’m sure tonight will be no different”
The past few years Pella Christian has had the advantage and pulled away as the game progressed, however this year Hessing says he expects a much closer game with neither team running away from the other. Pella is 4-1 overall while Pella Christian is 6-0. Both teams are 4-0 in the LHC and tonight’s winner will head into the holiday break in sole possession of first place in the conference race. You can hear tonight’s games live on 92.1 FM KRLS with Jamie Brockman and Eric Gotschall calling the action starting with the pregame at 5:45 p.m. The girls game will tip off a little earlier than normal at 6pm tonight followed by the boys. The game will also be streamed live on kniakrls.com. and can be found by clicking “Radio Plus” on the right side of the page then clicking the KRLS1 Live Coverage link.