BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
NEW LONDON – After Tuesday’s comeback win over Wapello, the Holy Trinity boys had upset on their mind but came up just short of knocking off No. 6 ranked New London.
HTC fell 65-58 to the Tigers in a Southeast Iowa Superconference South matchup after trailing by 15, the largest deficit on the night, going into the final period.
But as has been the case for most of the year, the Crusaders weren’t about to fold.
“It really was a heroic effort from these boys tonight,” Head Coach John Hellige said.
The Crusaders put eight points up in the fourth quarter before the Tigers could get anything going and got themselves back into the game. The Tigers then responded with five unanswered to put the lead back to 12. Then HTC went to work on the defensive side of the court and held New London scoreless for three minutes until the two minute mark when Holy Trinity went on a 9 point run to put them within five before the Tigers put two more points on the board.
As the clock ran down under 10 seconds, the Crusaders got the ball in the hands of senior Cory Hopper who took the ball up the court, down by 3, and was whistled out of bounds to end the threat.
“Cory was just phenomenal again tonight against a pretty stifling defense. They were keying on him the whole night,” Hellige said. Hopper finished with 21 points coming off a 36-point night in a Wapello win on Tuesday night.
But trying to contain Hopper opened up the inside game for HTC and allowed fellow seniors Bailey Merschman and Jack Stinson Jr, to get 13 and 12 points respectively.
“Bailey and Jack really had nice games inside. It’s good to know they can step up when team’s focus on Cory.”
Hellige said senior Nick Pothitakis had another remarkable defensive effort. Pothitakis who’s typically charged with taking on the opposing team’s top scorer held SEISC South scoring leader Mason Porter, just a sophomore for the Tigers, to 17 points compared to his 20-point clip.
Hopper, after Tuesday’s work against Wapello, is second in the conference in scoring at 19.0 pts. per game.
Rounding out the scoring for the Crusaders was Conner Hellweg with eight, and Pothitakis and Collin Thornton each with two points.
The Crusaders fall to 10-9 on the season and host Burlington Notre Dame on Tuesday night.
In the junior varsity game, HTC one 64-30, Three players scored in double figures led by Reed Fehseke with 16, Brant Holtkamp and Matt Hellige each scored 14, Quentin Schneider had 8, while Ryder Brune, Adam Rauenbeuler, Blake Crabtree, Kyle Bredemeyer and Connor Holvoet each added two points.