Donovan Holterhaus, Ryan Van Wyk and Drew Pringle all climbed up to the postgame press conference table with jeans and sweatpants on, ready to hit the road. They had little-to-zero interest in talking about their last game of the season — which, for all but one team in Class 3A, is a loss.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton beat Pella, 66-55, in the 3A state quarterfinals on Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Arena. The Warriors improve to 16-9 overall and will play West Delaware in the semifinals on Thursday. The Dutch season ends with a record of 22-3.
“I don’t think they relinquished the lead at any point,” Pella coach Mark Core said. “You have to give them credit. They played a really good game.”
The Warriors announced themselves with authority, opening the game with a 10-2 run while holding the Dutch to just 1 of 8 shooting early in the first quarter. Pella charged back in the second, but an 11-2 run from Sergeant Bluff-Luton led to a 31-18 halftime lead.
The Dutch muscled their way back into it, starting with a 10-2 run in the third to bring them within four heading into the final eight minutes. Core switched his defense to a 1-3-1, allowing Ryan Van Wyk to leak out down the court after the Dutch reclaimed possession, leading to easy baskets.
Van Wyk and Donovan Holterhaus both benefited from the switch. They finished with 19 and 15 points, respectively. Holterhaus laid in a bucket early in the fourth to tie the game at 47, the first such instance in the game since 0-0.
“We had a lot of momentum and made a huge run,” Van Wyk said. “We came back and tied it up, but they held us off well. I think if we would’ve scored a basket to get ahead, it might’ve helped our morale a little bit, but we kept fighting until the end.”
After trading buckets, the Warriors led 53-52 with 3:25 to play, then ripped off a 13-3 run to close the game. Connor Groves led the way with 17. Sam DeMoss added 12 off the bench while Keegan Savary and Jackson Wright both scored 10.
“We had to show a lot of toughness to fight back,” Sergeant Bluff-Luton coach Adam Vander Schaaf said. “They really came after us, but we fought that off and played with a lot of poise in the fourth quarter.”
After the whistle sounded, Sergeant Bluff-Luton players paraded their way into the locker room, ecstatic over their first state tournament victory in school history. Pella, meanwhile, scurried off to their bags to change. The 47-minute drive home would be a long one.
“It’s one and done,” Core said, “and you better be ready when it’s your one shot.”
Sergeant Bluff-Luton (66) — Groves 17, Kroll 9, Boekelman 8, Savary 10, Wright 10, DeMoss 12. Also played — Laughlin, Salker, Croston. Totals — 26-50, 8-14.
Pella (55) — Finney 9, Van Wyk 19, Holterhaus 15, Pringle 5, DeJong 2, Diers 3, Wassenaar 2. Also played — Viersen, VanderLeest. Totals: 25-53, 1-3.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton…15 16 14 21 — 66
Pella…10 8 23 14 — 55
3-pointers — Sergeant Bluff-Luton 6 (Groves 3, Savary 2, Kroll 1), Pella 4 (Finney, Holterhaus, Pringle, Diers). Fouls — Pella 15, Sergeant Bluff-Luton 10. Technical Fouls — None. Fouled Out — Sergeant Bluff-Luton 1 (Kroll).
Cody Goodwin covers high school sports, college basketball recruiting and Drake athletics for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.