DES MOINES — What Perry head coach Ned Menke feared most happened Tuesday, and the result was what he had worried beforehand that it might be — a run-away win for top-ranked, but second-seeded Pella.
The Dutch (23-1) erupted for a 27-14 lead after eight minutes of the play, and after outscoring the Bluejays (15-10) by four points in the second quarter, ended any remaining doubts with a 25-5 bulge in the third frame en route to a 94-54 win in Class 3A State Quarterfinal action.
“You have to give Pella all the credit — they are really a very good team,” Menke said in a post game press conference. “They were able to overcome whatever we tried to do to stop them and really rebounded the ball well.”
While the lopsided loss left both the Perry coaches and players understandably depressed, Menke was quick to point to what his team had achieved.
“We were really a .500 team for most of the season, then, in the last five games, we really started to put it together and really played well as a team,” he said. “Our seniors have just been tremendous for us, but we have a really solid core of players coming back and now they know what it will take.”
“We are where Pella was a year ago,” Menke added. “They got down here and then lost, and this year they took the next step. That is what this team has been doing. Two years ago we were in the second round, then last year we reached the substate finals and this year made it down here. Now what we need to do is learn from this and work hard to take the next step next year.”
Senior guard Shammond Ivory departs with a school-record 1,708 points. He had 18 points Tuesday to finish with 511 this year after scoring 505 as a junior. The all-stater said he was proud of how the team had come together as the season wound down.
“Around the Christmas break we were being too individual and not playing together,” he said. “(Assistant) coach (Jim) Richmond told us it was like five fingers — by themselves they cannot do much, but use them together and you can make a fist, and we started playing like a fist.”
Junior Kyle Nevitt said he was impressed by Pella’s cohesiveness.
“They really move the ball and play well together,” he said. “They knew where everyone was going to be.”
Junior Janier Puente kept Perry close in the opening minutes. Pella spurted to a quick 6-0 lead, but three baskets in the paint by the solidly built 6-4 post kept the Jays within range, at 11-6. Pella led, 16-8, but Solomon Pierce scored off an offensive rebound as Perry stayed within two possessions.
The Dutch rattled off 11 consecutive points to move into a 27-10 lead, but Ivory and Nevitt each added foul shots before Ivory broke free on the break and stuffed home a thunderous dunk just before the horn to trim the gap to 27-14.
Pella consistently found opener cutters along the baseline for easy baskets in close, but the Dutch could not stop Ivory driving to the hole, and repeated trips to the foul line were almost the only offense the Jays could muster as they fell into a 40-23 hole, with the score moving to 51-34 at the intermission.
Eight players scored in the first half for Pella, with Donovan Holterhaus having 11 points and Payson Vande Lune 10. Five Perry players had first-half points, with Ivory scoring 12, Puente eight, Nevitt seven, Connor Nielsen five and Pierce two.
A Nevitt 3-pointer 31 seconds into the third period and a Puente layup with 4:12 left in the frame were Perry’s only points in the stanza while Pella peeled off 25 points to take a 76-39 advantage into the final quarter, with a Holterhaus bucket at 2:14 starting a continuous clock.
Both teams emptied their benches with several minutes to play, allowing for all players to experience time on the floor at the state tourney.
Puente and Ryan Van Wyk entered the game as two of the top rebounders in 3A, but an individual battle never developed. While Puente cleared six boards and Van Wyk five, it was the other Dutch players who perplexed Perry as Pella finished with a surprising 39-26 edge off the glass.
Pella hit 4-of-10 3-pointers and made 39-of-66 from the floor (59.1 percent) while Perry was 7-of-19 (36.8 percent) behind the arc and finished 18-of-49 (36.7 percent) overall. The Jays sank 11-of-16 free throws and the Dutch 12-of-24.
Turnovers plagued Perry throughout the game, with Pella making 21 steals off 27 Bluejay turnovers while the Jays had only five steals on 13 Dutch turnovers. Pella finished with a 26-12 edge in assists as well.
Holterhaus had 21 points off the bench, nearly triple his average output. Van Wyk had 17 points, Vande Lune 16 and Will Warner 10 while nine other Dutch cagers scored. Holterhaus had seven rebounds and Warner eight assists with five Pella players recording three steals apiece.
Ivory finished with 18 points, Nevitt with 16 and Puente with 10 while Nielsen had five points, Ryan Rathje three and Pierce two. Rashon Ivory had seven assists, two steals and three rebounds, with Nevitt clearing three boards.
The loss was the final prep game for Shammond Ivory, Pierce, Rathje, Alex Long, Sean Riley, J.R. McCord and Trey Dantzler.