FORT MADISON – Sometimes in sports a win hinges on catching someone at the right time of the schedule.
Both the girls and boys varsity basketball teams may be looking at that scenario come Friday night at Danville.
The Danville boys, a perennial powerhouse in southeast Iowa basketball under Head Coach Ken Lafoon, typically are an intimidating presence with a long, enviable history. That history is not lost on HTC Coach John Hellige, who said the Crusaders haven’t beaten Danville in 15 games going back six years.
“They beat us 15 games in a row dating back to Jan. 15, 2010 and that was a triple overtime win on homecoming night,” Hellige said.
But the Crusaders may just be catching the Bears at the right time. Fort Madison High School handed the Bears one of their worst, if not the worst defeat in a long time 68-29 on Tuesday night. In that game they held Senior Kaleb Haeffner, who was averaging just under 20 points per game for the then No. 9 Class 1A ranked Bears, to just four points on the night.
The Bears also boast senior Kole Perkins who’s averaging just under 17 points per game and he was held to nine points.
But Hellige said his 4-2 Crusaders have had high energy practices this week and have a game plan.
“We’ve had a couple of really good practices, with a lot of high energy,” Hellige said. “Our kids are focused. This week was a huge breakthrough. The kids have been a little quiet in practice, and this week we got some ideas and perspective. With this group, we haven’t had that up until now. That’s a sign the kids are fully engaged and ready to play. It’s gonna be a fun game.”
The Crusaders are paced by Connor Conrad, who in case you haven’t heard, dropped 40 on Central Lee Tuesday night including 14-to-16 from the free throw line. The 40 was a new HTC school record. Conrad is averaging 20.8 points per game atop the Southeast Iowa Superconference-South. He’s also tops on the team in rebounds at eight per game and assists at 13. Cory Hopper is 3rd in the conference at 18.0, five boards and 12 assists.
The Crusaders also lead the conference in 3-point field goals with 111 on the season.
Hellige said he’s seen some tape of Fort Madison’s win on Tuesday night and the team has to execute a plan because Danville is still a very skilled team.
“We feel like were ready to make a step forward and compete with top teams in the conference. Really hoping to be ready for that,” he said.
I think we’ve got a good game plan to hopefully minimize their offense.”
RANDOLPH PICKING UP STEAM
Head Coach Tony Johnson’s varsity girls squad is coming off a 64-53 loss to Central Lee, but the 4th quarter looked like the Lady Crusaders had found the right gear.
Senior Ali Randolph, who’s averaging 8 points per game and 7 boards led HTC with 20 points, her highest offensive production of the season.
Taylor Boeding knocked down 14 points and is averaging 13 points per game putting her in the top 10 in the conference.
“We need to take care of the ball and stay focused for 32 minutes, especially at Danville,’ Johnson said. “That’s a tough place to win.”
Danville is lead by junior Emma Jarrett who scores at a 9.7 points per game clip and two seniors Kathryn Luers and Lauren Finke both chip in with 7 per game.
HTC has been getting some help inside from sophomore Emily Box. Box is averaging five points per game but is third in the SIESC-South with 9 boards per game.
“We’ve been working hard on our putbacks, rebounds and free throws,” Johnson said.
The Lady Crusaders are 3-4 on the season going into Friday’s game
Both junior varsity boys and girls teams play starting at 4:45 with the varsity action starting at 6 p.m girls tip off followed by the boys.