BY CHUCK VANDENBERG – Editor
FORT MADISON – Senior Cory Hopper poured in 25 points at home Tuesday and fellow senior Connor Conrad was right behind with 22, but the Crusaders couldn’t catch up the with notoriously quick West Burlington Falcons enroute to a 77-69 loss.
Hopper, who leads the Southeast Iowa Superconference in scoring with a 17.3 pts. per game clip, hit on 7 field goals and three 3-pointers as part of leading the blue and white. Conrad is in 2nd, according to the Iowa High School Athletic stat tracker Quick Stats at 16.8 ppg.
HTC had their only lead in the game right out of the gate going up 4-2 just four minutes into the game, and then had to play catch up the rest of the way fighting a 7 to 10 point deficit most of the rest of the way.
“We battled hard,” Head Coach John Hellige said. “The game got away from us in the end and we had to do a lot of fouling late to try and get back in the game.”
The Falcons started the second quarter up by 13, 10-23 and that disadvantage was the dagger as HTC outscored the Falcons 21-14 in the second quarter. Bailey Merschman, another senior on the squad, helped the Crusaders with nine points in the first half to keep the game within reach coming out of halftime. He finished with 11 points on the night.
The tide turned again in the third quarter as the Falcons put up 17 points to HTC’s 8 and Hellige said his team needed to control the ball better off misses.
“We didn’t rebound very well there,” he said. “It definitely got away from us in the 2nd half and then we had to start fouling.”
That performance bucks the trend of the three seniors who lead the conference in rebounding with Conrad on top at 7 boards per game followed by Merschman and Hopper at 6.8 and 6.5 respectively.
Senior Tate Snodgrass paced the Falcons with 25 points followed by Rooks DeRosear with 19 including a 10-12 shooting night from the free throw line. Junior Travon Ashby dumped in 17 working the inside for the Falcons.
The Crusaders fall to 2-2 on the young season and travel to Cardinal of Eldon for a Friday night game.