Central rallies to continue unbeaten women’s basketball start

Central College

Central College

PELLA — A 12-0 second-half run helped extend the Central College women’s basketball team’s surprising start with a 67-52 victory over Presentation College (S.D.) Saturday.

Under interim coach Chelsea Petersen, the Dutch are 5-0, matching the program’s fastest season start ever, which was first achieved in 2000-01.

Guard Rachel Evans (junior, Fort Dodge) had another strong floor game with a game-high 16 points and eight rebounds along with four assists and four steals. Guard Kaitlin Stump (sophomore, Lancaster, Mo., Schuyler R-1 HS) added 15 points and five assists while guard Kenzie Vander Molen (junior, Pella) had 14 points and five assists.

Central had a seemingly comfortable 29-21 halftime lead but Presentation (2-8) opened the second half with an 11-0 burst for a 32-29 lead at the 16:55 mark.

“I really thought it was two-fold,” Petersen said. “We needed to come out of the locker room more ready to go in the second half, but they ran a dfferent offense. They really made an adjustment. (Center Janvier Barbarin) is a big-body post for them and when they got ahead, they continued to post us up. We called a timeout and really got into our posts about the defense we needed to play and made that adjustment.”

Central was still down 45-42 with 9:44 left when senior guard Courtney Kelderman (Pella) knocked down two straight buckets, including a 3-pointer to start the decisive 12-0 spree.

But it wasn’t Kelderman’s scoring that caught Petersen’s eye.

“I thought Courtney did a tremendous job coming off the bench and really committing to the defensive end,” she said. “She had some huge box-outs late in the half and was very good defensively in the last 10 minutes.”

Central outrebounded Presentation 35-27 and but was outshot by the Saints, 47.4 percent to 42.9. But the Dutch came up with 10 steals and sank 21 of 27 free throws while Presentation made just two of four. And Central had just three turnovers in the second half, and 14 overall.

“I thought offensively, Kenzie Vander Molen, Kaitlin Stump and Rachel Evans did a great job of attacking the rim more (in the second half) than they did and ended up shooting a lot of free throws,” Petersen said. “Overall, we just settled down the last 10 minutes. We really committed to the offensive end and did what we needed to, to get defensive stops.”

The Dutch will attempt to become the first squad in program history to win the season’s first six games when they take on Bethany Lutheran College (Minn.) at Mankato, Minn. Friday at 5:30 p.m. They come back at Martin Luther (Minn.) at New Ulm at 2 p.m. the following day. Central was a 78-48 winner over Bethany Lutheran last year at Pella and leads the schools’ all-time series, 3-0. The Vikings are 1-3, getting outscored at home by Buena Vista Tuesday, 99-72.

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