Des Moines Christian silences Panorama’s Cinderella dreams

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Panorama’s fleeting hopes of a state tournament appearance were dashed last week in a deflating district championship loss.

Des Moines Christian steamrolled the Panthers, 58-29 in Class 2A, District 13 action Tuesday, Feb. 19 in Ames.

The defeat brought an end to PHS’ first winning season and highest win total since the 2015-16 campaign in which the Panthers finished 18-6 overall, ironically turned back in the playoffs by, who else but Des Moines Christian.

After starting this winter off on a disappointing 5-8 pace, Panorama caught fire, winning eight of their next 10 contests before last week’s defeat.

The Lions also knocked off Panorama, 46-41 back on Jan. 11. The second go-around was a drastically different story.

Des Moines Christian was in control from the opening tip in a contest moved up an hour in preparation for an oncoming snowstorm.

The Lions’ defensive prowess led to a dominant first half, as DMC charged out to a double-digit first quarter lead, out-scoring PHS 18-6, before tightening the clamps even more in the second period. The West Central Activities Conference foe held Panorama to just 11 first half points, lunging out to a nearly insurmountable 24-point halftime lead, up 35-11 at the break.

The Lions thusly exploded out of the locker room, scoring 23 points in the third quarter, holding the Panthers to yet another single digit frame (9), extending their lead to a ridiculous 38-point advantage. Though PHS held Des Moines Christian scoreless over the final eight minutes (9-0), it wasn’t nearly enough to complete the miraculous comeback.

The Lions were on fire most of the night, drilling nine three-pointers (50 percent) while knocking down 47 percent of their overall field goal attempts. The Panthers had trouble containing junior Curran Ingram, who went off for 21 points and six rebounds on nine-of-13 shooting, including a pair of three-pointers. The Lions assisted on 14 of their 24 field goals led by five assists from Seth Juhl, who also finished the night off with nine points. Eight Des Moines Christian athletes scored though the Lions only connected on a single free throw attempt.

Des Moines Christian squared off against eighth-ranked Treynor (20-3) Feb. 26 in the substate seven final with a place at state on the line.

Panorama senior Gracen Welberg finished the year as the Panthers’ leading scorer, averaging 14.3 points per game, which was the 12th-best mark in the West Central Activities Conference. Welberg also led the team in rebounding with 7.2 boards per game, which ranked eighth in the conference in addition to a team-best 54 steals (seventh in the WCAC). Panther junior Malachi Peasley tallied 92 total assists (4 apg) which was the fifth-best total in league play.

Sixth-ranked Van Meter (21-2, 15-1) won the West Central Activities Conference title out-right and recently secured their third straight state tournament appearance with a narrow 48-46 win over Pella Christian Saturday, Feb. 23.

The 2019 state tournament is set for March 4-8 at Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines.