BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – With the end of the regular season looming for the Holy Trinity boys varsity team, the road seems to be getting just a bit steeper.
After winning five of six from Jan. 10 – Jan. 23, the Crusaders have dropped two in a row and have likely lost starting point guard Connor Conrad for the rest of the regular season. Holy Trinity fell 75-50 on Friday to visiting Danville in Southeast Iowa Superconference boys basketball action.
They are also looking ahead to 11-5 Wapello on Tuesday, a team averaging close to 69 points per game which is tops in the Southeast Iowa Superconference North. Then face 6th-ranked New London at 15-1 on Friday on the road.
The game started quick-paced with the Bears holding a two-point lead after the first quarter but then the Bears used their quickness and ball control to move to a 36-27 halftime lead. The third quarter saw Danville ratchet up their press and take the energy from the Crusaders.
Holy Trinity Head Coach John Hellige said being one person down has not only hurt in some games, but is taking a toll in practice as well.
“We’re one less in our rotation so I think their press kinda wore us down there,” he said. “The energy we were exerting there…we just had some tired legs.”
The fatigue sat in fully in the third period as the Crusaders only managed nine points to Danville’s 15 and could only get as close at 10 points with three minutes remaining.
A usually sure-handed Crusader’s ball club committed a plethora of turnovers half way through the period against a pesky and quick Danville team that runs a fairly deep bench and possesses good ball handlers.
“We didn’t have the best of hands and we missed a couple guys this week in practice with sore legs,” Hellige said. “Our practices Wednesday and Thursday were good, but we didn’t have the whole team there. We tried to do a walk-through today before the jv game but it’s not quite the same as the speed of practice.”
Hellige also pointed out that his squad only converted 15 of 29 from the free-throw line and six of those were on the front end of one-and-ones which could have resulted in six more attempts.
“(Danville’s) tough. Overall I was happy with our effort. We just have to move on and get ready for Tuesday.”
Connor Hellweg led the Crusaders with 15 points, a season-high for him, with potent-scoring Cory Hopper right behind at 14. Bailey Merschman added 8 for HTC. Rounding out the scoring Milo Orton had 5 and Collin Thornton pitched in with 4. Nathan Bredemeyer had 2 points and Alex Bentler and Jack Stinson each added one.
Max Wilcox led Danville with 21 points.
In the jayvee stint, Danville again came out ahead 65-49. Matt Hellige led the way with 11 points. followed by Quentin Schneider and Adam Rauenbueler each with 8, Reed Fehseke had 6, Brant Holtkamp converted 5 free throws and Blake Crabtree had 4.