It was a battle for the ages when the Pella Little Dutch visited the Oskaloosa Indians Friday night. With seven-foot Xavier Foster back in the lineup, the Indians posed quite a problem for a much smaller Pella team. But it is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.
The Little Dutch had plenty of fight and a lot of heart as they accepted the challenge of a David vs Goliath matchup. Grant Nelson and Josh Warner did most of the defensive work on Foster and held him to 33 points with plenty of help from their teammates.
The two teams battled on even terms through the first half with Pella owning a 20-16 advantage in the first period and Osky reversing that in the second stanza. That sent the teams into intermission deadlocked at 36-36.
The Indians came out of halftime on fire and Foster ignited the home crowd with a pair of marquee slams to open the second half. Iszac Schultz and Reece Sarver finished an 8-0 run with baskets to give Osky a 44-36 lead two minutes into the second half.
But the Dutch were undaunted and they immediately went to work on the Osky lead. First it was Warner soaring over a crowd to put back an offensive rebound. Then John Oltman rifled in a three to cut the deficit to 44- 41.
After Foster hit a pair of free throws, Logan Shetterly slithered through the Indian defense for two. Foster countered with a slam and Pella answered with another three ball from Oltman and a rebound put back by Karl Miller. That surge tied the score at 48-48 and the battle raged.
Foster and Warner traded baskets and then Keaton Flaherty gave the Indians a 52-50 lead with a drive to the hoop. Ryan Mace finished the third quarter with a triple to give the Dutch a 53-52 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
Shetterly sandwiched a free throw and a drive shot around a three ball by Flaherty to keep the Dutch in front 56-55. A pair of free throws by Foster gave the Indians a brief lead, but Miller took care of that with a trey for a 59-57 Pella lead. Schultz then scored to tie the score at 59 all.
With 5:06 left in the game, Pella made its move. Warren Page started it with a drive to the hoop and Shetterly followed with a pair of free throws. Miller then went to the glass for a put back and Shetterly finished an 8-0 run with a slicing drive for two for a 67-59 Pella lead with 2:48 to go.
Now the Little Dutch were in position to play a little “Cat and Mouse”. The Indians had to foul to get the ball and Pella hit 10-of-12 free throws in the final two minutes to post a hard fought 79-68 victory.
Oltman spoke of the feeling when Osky built the lead coming out of halftime.
“We feel we are better when we are working together,” Oltman said. “Foster is a great player, but we wanted contributions from everybody. We knew he would get his points, but we wanted to stop the others. Our team did a great job of dribble-drive penetration and kicking the ball out for open shots.”
Shetterly led the Dutch with 21 points and Oltman was close behind with 20 points which included four three-point baskets. Treyton Sturgeon was also in double figures with 12 points and he chipped in with five rebounds and five assists.
Miller led the rebounding with seven and Warner had an all round game of seven points, five rebounds, three steals and six assists. Foster was the lone Indian in double digits with 33 points.
“Oskaloosa is an excellent team and it was a great environment,” Pella coach Derek Schulte said. “They got it going late in the first half and early in the second half. But we showed great poise and were able to get back to what we do. We did a good job or creating shots and our defense was great.”
Pella scoring – Ryan Mace 1 0-0 3, Treyton Sturgeon 3 5-6 12, Logan Shetterly 5 10-13 21, Karl Miller 4 0-0 9, Josh Warner 3 1-3 7, Johnathan Oltman 7 2-2 20, Grant Nelson 1 0-0 3, Warren Page 2 0-0 4, Team 26 18-24 79. Three point goals (9) – Oltman 4, Mace 1, Sturgeon 1, Shetterly 1, Miller 1 Nelson 1.
Pella rebound leaders (24) – Miller 7, Sturgeon 5, Warner 5, Mace 3