1993 NCAA Div. III champions
PELLA—The Central College women’s basketball team pieced together its most successful campaign since the 2003-04 season, but was unable to extend it into the postseason after a 54-51 loss to Iowa Conference foe Wartburg College Saturday afternoon.
The Dutch (11-14 overall, 3-11 conference) set program records with six consecutive wins to open the season and 142 3-point field goals, led by guard Courtney Kelderman (senior, Pella), who finished second all-time with 54 triples this year.
“I’m proud of our team and what we accomplished this season,” coach Chelsea Petersen said. “I’m blessed to be their coach and to have the opportunity to be with them daily. They do a great job of representing our program, Central College and the Pella community.”
Wartburg (11-14 overall, 5-9 conference) outscored Central 6-3 in the final 1:39, winning a contest that had seven ties and 17 lead changes. Neither team led by more than five points at any juncture. The Dutch held the Knights to 38.5 percent (20-of-52) shooting from the floor and 18.2 percent (2-of-11) from 3-point range, but struggled offensively as well, shooting 30.4 percent (14-of-46) overall.
“We played great defensively, but we didn’t score enough to win,” said Petersen. “We turned the ball over too much and didn’t execute in key moments.”
Central committed 18 turnovers, but forced 17 Wartburg turnovers. The Knights separated themselves in the post, holding a 39-32 advantage on the glass and scoring 28 points in the paint.
Guard Rachel Evans (junior, Fort Dodge) led the Dutch with 13 points and chipped in five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Forward Jessy Stika (senior, Cresco, Crestwood HS) tallied nine points and a team-high eight rebounds, while guard Kenzie Vander Molen (junior, Pella) added nine points, seven rebounds and six assists.
“Rachel played really well,” Petersen said. “She did a great job defensively, which kept us in the game. Kenzie did a terrific job all season. She led from the point guard position and did everything the right way.”
It was Senior Day inside P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium as the Dutch honored Hilary Beaird (Burlington), Kelderman, Whitney Pavlat (Pella), Stika and Carly Jo Stratbucker (Fort Calhoun, Neb.). Beaird and Stratbucker served as co-captains this season alongside Kelderman and Vander Molen.
“I want to thank the seniors for their contributions to the program as a whole,” said Petersen. “They put in a lot of hard work and sacrifice over the past four years.
“The captains enhanced the program’s culture and instilled a sense of accountability in our younger players. Dutch women’s basketball stands for excellence, enthusiasm, unquestioned integrity and high ethical standards and they demonstrate that daily.”
Wartburg’s Alyssa Sager scored 13 points as one of three Knights in double figures. Holly Halstead netted 12 points, while Bobbi Burrows had 11.
The loss marks the end of the season for the Dutch, who finished two games back for the No. 6 seed in the league tournament. But the future is bright as Central returns three of its five starters from this year’s squad.
“We have a lot of momentum heading into next season,” Petersen said. “There are pieces in place to be successful next year. I’m excited about the future.”