BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
If someone had told HTC boys head coach John Hellige that his senior shooting specialists Connor Conrad and Cory Hopper would be held to a combined three points and come out with a win, he may have asked to be pinched.
But that’s exactly what happened Tuesday night, not the pinching, but the Crusaders snapped a 3-game losing streak with a 45-36 win on the road at Van Buren in Southeast Iowa Superconference-South boys action. The win moves HTC back to .500 on the season at 5-5.
The Crusaders got a season-high 14 points from senior Bailey Merschman to offset the 3 points from Conrad and Hopper who were leading the SEISC-South in scoring at close to 19 points each.
According to Hellige, Conrad injured his right knee on the second play of the game and didn’t play in the rest of the first half and played only one possession after the break. Hopper only made a free throw in the first half and two free throws in the second half.
“This was a total team effort…very balanced scoring,” Hellige said. “They really keyed in on Cory and Connor so we played 11 kids and everyone contributed.”
The Crusaders were able to keep their distance from the Warriors through the second half, allowing Hellige to keep Conrad on the bench. HTC had a 7-point lead after three periods, which held up as the two teams traded buckets the rest of the way.
“He’s fine,” Hellige said of Conrad. “We just didn’t want to risk anything.”
Rounding out the scoring for the Crusaders was Nick Pothitakis with 8 points, including two second-half 3-pointers. Collin Thornton had 7, Ben Tinguely with 6 points all on two 3-pointers in the first half. Connor Hellweg added 5 and Jack Stinson put in a bucket.
In the junior varsity game, the Crusaders were led by Reed Fehseke with 20 points including four second-half 3-pointers en route to a 48-45 win. Brant Holtkamp and Quentin Schneider each had 8, Matt Hellige had 6, Kyle Bredemeyer had 3, Adam Rauenbueler had 2 and Blake Crabtree added a point.
The Crusaders play host to WACO on Friday with a junior varsity boys/varsity girls/varsity boys triple header beginning at 4:30.