BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Holy Trinity girls wiped out a 15-point deficit at halftime only to go cold in the fourth quarter en route to a 54-45 loss to Wapello Tuesday night.
The Crusaders put three players in double figures and seemed to have Wapello figured out in the third quarter when they closed the gap to four on several occasions. Sophomore Emily Box scored nine points in the half as HTC managed to work the ball inside for most of the period, working the perimeter until a passing lane opened up to Box.
She finished with 11 points for the game. Ali Randolph led HTC with 12 points, but got into foul trouble early and had to ride the bench early on.
“We struggled with fouls all night,” Head Coach Tony Johnson said. “Randolph and Box were on the bench for most of the 2nd quarter so that hurt us.”
‘But we did a real good job in the third quarter, but we just got in too big of a hurry in the fourth quarter and got away from our offense.”
Wapello’s head coach John Vandenberg put the squeeze on the Crusaders with a trap press for most of the game forcing some turnovers in transition and getting the Crusaders off balance right out of the gate.
HTC only converted 4 of 13 first half shot attempts but their defense was able to keep the game within four at the end of the first period, but the Arrows pulled away outscoring HTC 18-7 in the second quarter, highlighted by a six-minute scoring drought for the Crusaders.
Out of the locker room, Holy Trinity scored first and often kicked off by a Brett Schneider bucket and then two back-to-back buckets by Box. Ali Randolph scored on a bucket inside. The Arrows managed a free throw by Denalyn Lanz, but Box answered with another easy bucket inside. Schneider then reeled off a 3-pointer and bucket on the next trip down to force a Wapello time out. By that time, HTC had closed the gap to 30-32. After the breather, Karlee Carey hit two-free throws to put the game back at four points 34-30.
Box connected on a jumper from the free throw line and hit the front end of a one-and-one but Wapello’s leading scorer Eryka Dickey hit a 3-pointer to hold the four-point advantage going into the final period.
Box and Randolph combined for six points to Wapello’s one point on a free throw by Jena Gerot and to take a 39-38 lead but Wapello came storming back and put the game away with a 10-0 run that didn’t end until Randolph converted inside to make the score 51-41 with less than a minute left and the game out of reach.
“We just came out a little flat and got into foul trouble,’ Johnson said. “Credit to them, they came and took it to us.”
Rounding out the scoring for the Crusaders was Schneider with 11 and Mya Lawlor and Ashyn Haas each with four points.
Wapello was led by Carey with 20 points.
HTC falls to 9-10 on the season and travels to New London on Tuesday night to wrap up the regular season.