BY CHUCK VANDENBERG – EDITOR
ELDON – In today’s vernacular “sick” can mean something great…or something..well…sick.
With one senior out and another senior feeling the effects of an illness, the Crusaders boys basketball team would have thought Friday’s test at Cardinal would have been a bit tougher. However HTC rolled over the hosts 70-41 in a blowout.
‘We had one kid out sick, but we played great as team. We had a couple kids at 21 and 18 points but after that we were very balanced scoring,” said Head Coach John Hellige.
Senior Cory Hopper, who continues to lead the Southeast Iowa Superconference in scoring, put up 21 points, but Hellige said he wasn’t feeling well either.
“He was just getting over being sick, too, where he’d had a high fever and he just really stepped it up and fought through all that.”
But it was the balanced attack and defense that really had Hellige in high spirits. The Crusaders gave up only 5 points in the first quarter and 14 in the second while putting up 40 of their own in the first half and had the game clearly in hand out of the gate.
‘Our goal was to keep them under 40, and we gave up 41 so that’s pretty good and we were able to play all the kids. That was important for us because those guys work their butts off all week at practice and its fun when they all get in and play.
The Crusaders opened their largest lead of the game at 29 points with just over a minute left in the third quarter. Behind Connor Conrad’s 18 points the Crusaders never looked back.
“Connor gave us his usual full court, full throttle effort and Bailey Merschman played more of a post presence and used his size much better today, which is what I’ve been asking of him.”
Hellige said despite the upside down score, the Crusaders still have some work to do in transition.
“We missed some shots early in transition..off turnovers. Not easy shots, but missed shots,” he said. ” We’re not where we need to be. We’ve got to exhibit more poise and control in those situations.”
Bailey Merschman had 10 points, Nick Pothitakis, Brant Holtkamp and Nathan Bredemeyer each had four points for HTC, Ben Tinguely and Collin Thornton each added three points, Matt Hellige had a bucket and Adam Rauenbuehler added a free throw.
The Crusaders are 3-2 on the season and host Central Lee Tuesday night.
In the junior varsity game, the score was almost as lopsided with HTC winning 65-26. Reed Fehseke knocked down 18 for the Crusaders to spark the win including three 3-pointers, Matt Hellige had 12 points and Brant Holtkamp added 11. Blake Crabtree had 9 points, Quentin Schneider and Kyle Bredemeyer each had 6 and Adam Rauenbuehler had 4 in the win.