BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WEST BURLINGTON – Holy Trinity boys’ head coach John Hellige jazzed his starting lineup Tuesday night and the result was music to his ears.
His Crusaders went into West Burlington and knocked off the 11-2 Falcons by one point, 46-45, Tuesday night in Southeast Iowa Superconference boys action.
“We went to a bigger lineup to start the game and create some scoring,” Hellige said. “We started with Bailey (Merschman) and Jack (Stinson) and moved Cory to 1 and he played extremely well at the point.
Hopper led all scorers with 27 points including a long 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter.
“Cory’s 30-footer at the end of the 3rd quarter was a huge momentum boost for us,” Hellige said. “The kids were extremely focused. Nick (Pothitakis) converted a couple of huge free throws at the end.”
The Crusaders were down by 2 at the first quarter and then by 6 at the half 27-21.
“We went into halftime down by 6 and then Connor (Conrad) came up to me at halftime and said he wanted to play,” Hellige said. “I wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to do anything to hurt his knee any more so we let him warm up and then he played the whole half. And you know… I’d take Connor at 75% any time and that was big for us to have him there.”
Conrad hasn’t played in the past three games and was leading the team in scoring at about 18 points per game before bonking his knee last week.
The Crusaders held a slim two-point margin starting the fourth period thanks to Hopper’s 3-pointer. West Burlington could only muster three points in the period until the last minute when HTC held a 44-37 lead. In the last minute the Falcons put up 8 points to the Crusaders two, but the two were just enough as the Crusaders move to 7-6 on the year.
“This team has beat 6 teams we should have beat and we’ve lost to 6 teams that I thought we should have lost to. I’ve known since this summer what this team is capable of and they showed a little bit of that tonight,” Hellige said.
Merschman was second on the team in scoring with 9, followed by Stinson and Connor Hellweg with 4 and Pothitakis with 2.
In the junior varsity game, the Falcons got the best of HTC 55-51 despite being tied at 51 with less than a minute remaining.
Reed Fehseke had 18 for HTC followed by Brant Holtkamp with 10 and Adam Rauenbueler with 9. Kyle Bredemeyer and Matt Hellige each had 5 points and Quentin Schneider had 4.