Pella Christian knocked off by hot-shooting Regals in substate final

Feb. 26—NORTH LIBERTY — Eying a third straight trip to the Class 2A state tournament, Pella Christian matched up with the Regals of Iowa City Regina on Saturday for a neutral court battle with the winner advancing to Wells Fargo Arena next week. Both teams shot extremely well early with Regina coming though in the fourth quarter to knock off Pella Christian, 64-59.

"I thought shot making, it felt like they were making everything for a stretch there," Pella Christian head coach JD Boer said. "It put us behind and then we're able to mount a bit of a comeback. But we never really rebounded the ball like we needed to. It just felt like we played the whole game on defense. I truly give an incredible amount of credit to Regina. I felt like that team played excellent basketball here tonight and that's the way the game of basketball goes."

The hot shooting started early for both teams as Pella Christian got going first with Josiah Vos stepping out to the three-point line and confidently knocking down a couple of big threes to put the Eagles in front 17-9. The Regals scored the last five points to pull within 17-14 after the first.

The Regina offense then continued to explode in the second quarter going for 25 points while PC continued to score at a good rate with 18 points and threes from Dane Geetings, Vos and Deacon Branderhorst.

The Eagles looked for answers on the defense end as Boer cycled through zones and man-to-man defenses but Regina was able to move the ball well and make open and tough shots. A late floater by Regina's Eddie Petersen put the Regals ahead 39-35 at the break as the two teams combined for 12 made threes in the first half.

The Regals quickly pushed the lead 44-35 after a Michael Martin three and another Petersen floater to start the third quarter. It was nearing the danger zone for the Eagles but the veteran team responded well with a 15-9 run to end the third and pull within three with the Pella Christian side getting on their feet in support.

The game was well in the balance with eight minutes to go and every basket sending a wave of energy to the Iowa City Liberty gym. Regina decided to slow the pace in the fourth quarter as they melted the shot clock and tried to limit the number of possessions down the stretch. The Regal lead was three for most of the quarter as a second chance three by Martin briefly made it a six-point game with two minutes to before Geetings answered with a huge three of his own.

The next two possessions saw both teams miss looks and PC would have to start to play the foul game with under 30 seconds to go and trailing by three. The Eagles used a couple of fouls as they needed to get to five team fouls to get Regina into the bonus. But before PC could get the fifth foul, Regina would throw a deep pass from PC's baseline towards half court where a Regal player would try to save it and would instead turn it over to the Eagles.

PC sprinted the other way finding Geetings on the elbow for a potential tying three-pointer that would rim out. Pella Christian would have to foul and Martin would make both free throws on the other end to finish off the 64-59 win to advance to state while knocking out the Eagles.

Regina shot a red-hot 57% for the game including 7-of-15 from three and 5-of-7 from the free throw line. It was a low turnover game for both teams as they each finished with eight turnovers and the Regals held a slight rebounding advantage at 24-19.

Martin finished with 20 points to lead the Regals while Drew Streb added 16 points and eight rebounds.

For Pella Christian, they still shot 45% from the field and 9-of-25 from three to go with an 8-of-10 effort from the free throw line.

Geetings, who was emotional after the game, finished with a game-high 24 points to with three assists while Tysen De Vries and Josiah Vos both added 11 points.

"Dane is a passionate individual and a passionate player," Boer said. "It's tough when it ends too soon, especially for a guy like Dane, but he's a guy that's got to keep his head up high because not only did he play well tonight, but he's been just an absolutely consistent dynamite player here for us all season long and I'm so proud of him."

Pella Christian finishes the season with an 18-6 record and will say farewell to a large group of seniors that have helped guide the Eagles to two state semifinal appearances, another substate final this season and a 53-23 record over the past three seasons.

"This team really desired to be a part of something bigger than themselves," Boer said. "It showed in the way that they played the game of basketball. It showed in the way they interacted with each other. That showed everyday in practice. This team had fun, this team was a determined group and it really hurts when it comes to an end. This team is going to keep their head held high because they gave it everything they had and were determined to be a part of something bigger. Well, it's tough. It's tough the way that it ended but I am and will continue to be so proud of who they are and what they've meant to our program, what they've meant to our school and the way that they serve the Lord through the game of basketball."

Colin Peters can be reached at 641-672-2581, by email at or on Twitter @ColinPetersOH.