MONROE — With the game appearing to get away from the Prairie City-Monroe girls’ basketball team on Monday night, head coach Jeff Lindsay took a timeout with five minutes to go.
His team was down 17 points. But he still wanted to make sure the Mustangs could use the time remaining in the game to help them get better for the rest of the season.
“We wanted to use the last five minutes as a springboard moving ahead,” Lindsay said. “I really thought the defense was great. We did a tremendous job, moved our feet and communicated much better. I hope we can move forward doing that.”
The Mustangs won the final five minutes, but Pella Christian won the game 61-50 to improve to 4-1 on the season.
PCM (2-2) had an early lead in the game on a basket by junior Morgan Uhlenhopp and sophomore Regan Freland’s drive to the basket kept the game close at 8-6.
Pella Christian then went on a 9-0 run, triggering an early timeout from Lindsay.
“We needed to slow down. Every time we would get into a groove and get back into the game, we started to amp it up too much,” Lindsay said. “Right now, we are not that type of team. When the opportunity is there we can be, but we can’t force feed the issue.”
Turnovers were the difference in the game. Every time the Mustangs got close, they couldn’t get over the hump because of a bad pass or bad decision.
PCM overcame the early 17-6 deficit to get within 19-14 after one quarter. Freland scored five in a row and then junior Camryn Wignall buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer to get her team within five.
Freshman Lilli Baird opened the second quarter with a trey and then Freland tied the game with a steal on defense and a layup at the other end. Pella Christian went back up five with a mini run, but Freland and Uhlenhopp scored baskets inside to stay close.
A pair of free throws by Sloan Hjortshoj got PCM within one. but Pella Christian scored nine of the final 12 points of the quarter and led by seven at halftime.
“To claw all the way back and get the thing tied, I can’t say enough about the effort the girls gave,” Lindsay said.
Pella Christian made eight 3-pointers in the game. Five of those came in the first quarter and seven were made in the first half.
“It was an issue,” Lindsay said. “It came down to how we positioned ourselves in the zone. We weren’t positioning ourselves very well. We weren’t reacting quick enough. When we went to man, I thought we did OK and then we turned our bodies different ways and weren’t being very efficient.”
The Mustangs stayed closed in the third until turnovers on three straight possessions led to easy buckets at the other end of the floor for the Eagles. Those buckets made it an 11-point hole for PCM.
Baird nailed another 3-pointer and Uhlenhopp scored inside to close to within six, but two more turnovers extended the Eagles’ lead back to 11.
“We just turned it over too much because we tried to fly the thing down the floor,” Lindsay said.
“We weren’t making the best choices and then put ourselves in spots that led to turnovers.”
Pella Christian led by 12 after three quarters, and the lead grew to 17 early in the fourth. Freland made 3-of-4 from the line and Baird connected on her third 3-pointer to narrow the gap to 11, and that was the final margin.
Freland scored 16 of her game-high 21 points in the first half, and she also had six steals.
Baird added 10 points, three rebounds and three steals and Wignall put in eight points, dished out four assists and finished with three steals for the Mustangs.
Uhlenhopp collected seven points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Pella Christian got 18 points and four 3-pointers from Kaley Wilson, while Isabella Baugh had 12 points and Morgan Fopma put in 11 points.
Pella Christian 19-18-17-7 — 61
PCM 14-16-12-8 — 50
Pella Christian (FG/3pt-FT-F-TP) — Kaley Wilson 6/4-2-3-18, Mara Juffer 3/1-0-3-7, Avery Baugh 1/1-0-1-3, Lizzy Posthuma 1/1-0-1-3, Emma Huisman 3/1-0-4-7, Morgan Fopma 4-3-4-11, Isabella Baugh 5-2-3-12. Totals 23/8-7-19-61.
PCM (FG/3pt-FT-F-TP) — Camryn Wignall 3/2-0-1-8, Sloan Hjortshoj 1-2-3-4, Lilli Baird 3/3-1-1-10, Regan Freland 8/2-3-3-21. Morgan Uhlenhopp 3-1-3-7. Totals 18/7-11-50.