Who: No. 2 Pella (22-2) vs No. 7 Monticello (22-0)
What: Class 3A – State- Quarterfinals
Where: Wells Fargo Arena
When: Tuesday, March 9 at 8 p.m.
First meeting in VarsityBound era (since 2006).
By the numbers
Something is going to give. Pella enters with the second-best offense in Classs 3A at 71 points and 19 assists per game while leading the class in threes per game at 10.8 and three-point percentage at 39%. But the Dutch will be going up against the top defense in the class as Monticello gives up just 34.5 points per game (8.5 points less than second). The Panthers average 10.1 steals per game (fourth) but can also get it done offensively as they are fifth in field goal percentage (48.4%) and first in assists ahead of Pella at 19.7 per game. They are also just ahead of Pella in point differential, sitting second at 27.7 while the Dutch are third at 19.2.
One key player for Pella
Karl Miller has some unfinished business at Wells Fargo Arena. In last year’s state quarterfinal loss to Sergeant Bluff-Luton, Miller shot 2-of-8 from the floor and 1-of-6 from three for five points. He has a bigger role on this team but Pella will need a big night from him against a swarming defense that will make life difficult for him. Miller will have to knock down some contested threes which he’s done many times this season but he may also have to take off the bounce and attack the rim to loosen up the defense. The Dutch ride off his and Grant Nelson’s shooting. They both will be tested against Monticello.
Keys for Pella
Get out in transition. Pella is going to do everything they can to not allow this Panther defense to sink in their claws in the half-court. The Dutch already like to grab the rebound and run. They will try to get easy buckets where they can and avoid a half-court game where they can get into trouble with teams that like to play slow. Pella needs to control the pace and turn defense into offense to hand Monticello their first loss. The Panthers are led by 6-foot-6 forward Justin Recker, who averages 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.7 blocks per game. Pella will try to slow him down and get their first trip to the state semifinals since 2016.
Colin Peters can be reached at 641-672-2581, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ColinPetersOH.