Pella Christian is state championship-bound tonight after holding off Kuemper Catholic in the Class 2A state semifinals Thursday afternoon 64-61 in an instant classic heard live on KRLS.
The No. 2 Eagles and No. 3 Knights traded the lead 23 times in a contest where neither team led by more than 10 at any given point. Pella Christian’s best stretch came late in the third quarter when they went on a 12-2 run, only for Kuemper to claw back and take a lead in the fourth.
The Eagles made pivotal moves down the stretch, including a pair of three point plays by David Kacmarynski and perfect foul shooting by Levi Jungling to keep the Knights from getting momentum late.
Head Coach Larry Hessing says he didn’t expect perfection on the floor, but expected their best effort of the season to this point, and believes they responded to the tense atmosphere.
“I told the guys before the game it wasn’t going to be perfect — that’s kind of my montra,” he says. “And when you’re up ten and go down one, we kept battling, and told them to keep digging and they did that.”
“I thought it was a great team effort, but the stars shined brightly today.”
Those stars made the biggest plays of the game. Before his clutch foul shooting, Jungling was unstoppable for most of the afternoon, pouring in 31 points with six threes. Kacmarynski tacked on 14 points, including nine in the final frame while playing with four fouls, and Scott Haveman knocked in nine from the bench.
Pella Christian is 22-4 and has cross-state rival and defending champions Western Christian in the Class 2A Championship Round tonight. Wire-to-wire coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. on 92.1 KRLS, kniakrls.com, and the free KRLS mobile app, with opening tip just after 8:00 p.m.