A night that began with somber faces and a few tears quickly turned to smiles and cheers for members and fans of the Pella High girls basketball team, as the Lady Dutch assembled an emotional 58-30 win over Knoxville Wednesday evening in the Class 3A Regional Tournament Quarterfinals. With the community still reeling from the accident that claimed the life of Pella High student Blake Van Vark, students and fans packed the Pella High gymnasium donning blue ribbons in memory of the 16-year-old, whose life was tragically cut short on Monday night.
What unfolded on the basketball court looked nothing like the contest that Knoxville had won just five days before, as the Lady Dutch pressured the Panthers into over 30 turnovers and picked up big contributions from their bench in the runaway win. Up 16-7 after one quarter of play, Pella put together a 10-2 run just before the end of the first half and took a 33-16 lead to the locker room. From there, the lead would only widen, as the Panthers struggled to find the scoring opportunities they had seen in the previous game.
Pella got another double-double – 17 points and 10 rebounds – from Regan Cooper, but reserves Sheldon Rozenberg, Allie DeMeulenaere, Lexi DeHeer and Lindsay Pothoven were also key, notching 9, 7, 5 and 5, respectively, in the scoring column. Knoxville was led by Ellie Hawkshead’s 8 points and 7 rebounds, but it was a quiet night for guards Meredith Cunningham and Taylor Carter, who combined for just 8 points after scoring 33 of Knoxville’s 51 points in the previous contest.
The win puts the Pella Lady Dutch at 13-9 on the season. They’ll take on No. 10-ranked Williamsburg on the Raiders’ home court Saturday night. Knoxville ends their season with a 5-17 overall record.