16 Iowa Conference championships
PELLA—Central College placed all five starters in double figures but it was defense that impressed coach Craig Douma in his team’s 80-66 men’s basketball triumph over Fontbonne University (Mo.) Saturday.
Guard Kevin Kaerwer (junior, El Paso, Texas, John L. Chapin HS) had 10 points but also was one of the players who drew the assignment of guarding standout Fontbonne guard Greg Gentry. Gentry finished with a game-high 21 points for Fontbonne (0-1), but was just eight-of-22 from the field and made four turnovers.
“I give Kevin Kaerwer a lot of credit,” Douma said. “He was definitely the defensive player of the game and probably the player of the game overall. Both he and KJ Cool (senior, Chillicothe, Mo., Newtown Harris R-3 HS) got after Gentry. They did a good job.”
The Dutch (2-0) limited Fontbonne to 30.9 percent shooting from the field, including just 26.5 percent in the second half.
After Central jumped to a 29-14 lead with 7:05 left in the first half, Fontbonne closed to 37-34 and the Dutch needed a Cool 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 42-34 halftime advantage.
“I felt like if we held them to the same amount of points in the second half, we’d win the ballgame,” Douma said.
Fontbonne got as close as 54-50 with 8:48 remaining in the game, but then Central went on a 16-3 burst to go up 70-53 at the 4:24 mark. The Dutch maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
“We made some big stops when we needed them down the stretch,” Douma said.
Forward Jacob Winkler (senior, Lancaster, Mo., Schuyler R-1 HS) had his fifth career double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds while guard Nick Marinkovich (senior, Clarendon Hills, Ill., Hinsdale Central HS) also had 17 points, guard Branden Stubbs (junior, Pleasant Hill, Des Moines Christian HS) added 14 points and Kaerwer and forward Matt Greenfield (junior, Huxley, Ballard HS) had 10 points. Greenfield also had nine rebounds and two blocks.
Douma also cited center Spencer Bakerink (junior, Creston), who had eight rebounds in 14 minutes and filled in when Winkler drew his fourth foul with 9:12 left.
“Spencer Bakerink gave us some big minutes again,” Douma said. “We were standing around and he helped us get some better movement. We started to get layups.”
Central shot 45.0 percent from the floor and outrebounded Fontbonne 50-43 in winning after defeating Monmouth (Ill.) in Thursday’s opener.
“These were two really good games for us,” Douma said. “These were both very athletic teams. We’re not going to see too many point guards who can get to the rim as easily as the one we saw today.”
The Dutch make their first road trip under Douma Tuesday, traveling to Mount Vernon to take on former Iowa Conference rival Cornell College. The Rams opened their season Saturday after going 3-22 a year ago, including a pair of losses to Central.
“This will be a great test on the road for us,” Douma said. “We’re playing three games in six days and I’m excited about that. It will be good for us.”