The Knoxville Lady Panthers came into Monday night’s non-conference encounter at Pella Christian with only one loss and the host Pella Christian Eagles were without a win. On paper it appeared to be an easy win for Knoxville.
Hardly so, as the upstart Eagles almost pulled off a stunning upset before the Panthers pulled out a 72 -64 overtime win.
The two teams were tied at 59-59 at the end of regulation. Both teams had a chance to win it at the end, but an offensive foul negated the Eagle opportunity and Knoxville missed a shot in the final seconds.
The Panthers controlled the tip in the overtime period and Maggie Wilkins took charge. Wilkins drained a three and then she scored on a breakaway after a teammate’s steal. Emri Agre connected on a three to keep the Eagles close, but Wilkins answered with an off balance shot to give Knoxville a 66-62 lead with 2:31 left in OT.
Allison Van Gorp then made a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to two points, but that would be the last points the Eagles would score. Katie Keitges swiped the ball at mid-court and coasted in for a layup and Wilkins put the game on ice with four consecutive free throws.
In the early going the Eagles appeared to have the Panthers right in the center of the cross hairs. The Eagles jumped into an early lead and the Panthers finally pulled even at 16-16 at the end of the first period. In that first quarter, Van Gorp scored 14 of the Eagles 16 points as the Panthers struggled to deal with her size. Wilkins and Keitges had all of the Panther points except for a free throw by Charlee Heffron.
In the second stanza the Panthers were able to get better control of the inside, but the Eagles went outside. Chloe Morgan rifled in a pair of threes and Emma Witzenburg and Anna Bonnet also scored to put the Eagles up 29-25 at intermission.
In the third quarter the Panthers finally gained the lead at 43- 40 on a triple by Keitges, but the pesky Eagles would not go away. Pella Christian trailed by only 46-44 at the end of the frame and they game back to regain the lead at 50-48 on an inside bucket by Adrie Fransman.
Then it became a Cat vs Eagle fight to the end. PC took a 59-57 lead on a bucket by Witzenburg, but Keitges answered with a drive to the hoop to tie the score at 59-59. The table was set for the overtime and Wilkins enjoyed the feast.
It was a very relieved coach Jim Uitermarkt that savored the win after the contest.
“We are just glad to get out of here with the win,” Uitermarkt said. “It was one of those games where things were somewhat out of kilter. We didn’t have school today and that messed up the preparation for game night. We also had to play without a starter>”
Wilkins and Keitges scored all but six of the Knoxville points as they each racked up 33 points. Heffron led the rebounding with seven boards and Tara Uitermarkt and Wilkins each had six caroms off the glass. Keitges dished out a team high of eight assists.
Van Gorp asserted herself on the inside with 24 points and a whopping 21 rebounds for the Eagles. Morgan chipped in with 18 points and she led in assists with seven. Witzenburg was also in double digits with 10 points and Bonnett led in steals with three.
“I am super pleased with how we played,” Pella Christian coach Brad Engbers said. “Knoxville is a very good team and they have two super players. We came out strong and took the ball inside well. Chloe Morgan hit some big shots for us and Adrie Fransman played well also. The big thing is that everybody contributed something good to this game.”
Pella Christian scoring – Anna Bonnett 1 0-0 2, Chloe Morgan 6 2-4 18, Emma Witzenburg 5 0-0 10, Emri Agre 1 0-0 3, Adrie Fransman 3 0-0 6, Allison Van Gorp 10 4-4 24, Kara Van Wyk 0 1-2 1, Team 22 6-8 64. Three point goals – Morgan 4, Agre 1
Pella Christian rebounds (45) – Van Gorp 21, Fransman 6, Witzenburg 5, Agre 4, Avery Baugh 4
Pella Christian assists (20) – Morgan 7, Bonnett 4, Fransman 4, Witzenburg 2, Agre 2, Baugh 1