BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DANVILLE -The annual Southeast Iowa Superconference Shootout lived up to the name Saturday in Danville.
The HTC girls basketball team had eight minutes to play and 18-point lead and put up another 11 points in the fourth quarter, but Wapello’s girls team threw up 31 points in the final quarter to eek out a 59-55 win to end both teams’ regular seasons.
The Crusaders held a 44-26 lead going into the final period, but Wapello pushed the tempo of the game and put HTC’s girls on their heels forcing turnovers…and a slew of whistles.
Wapello went to the free-throw line 19 times in the final period. The Arrows converted on 13 of the freebies and went on a 16-2 run through the first four minutes of the quarter.
HTC’s Brett Schneider tried to stop the momentum with a bucket and foul at the 4:16 mark, but failed to convert the free-throw. After six consecutive free-throws by Wapello, HTC senior Ali Randolph, who led the Crusaders with 14 on the night, tried to throw water on the fire and had back-to-back buckets with 2:50 left in the game to put HTC up by five 52-47.
Wapello’s Eryka Dickey then scored eight points in the next two minutes. Tiffany Parsons put in an 8-foot jumper with about a minute left to give Wapello it’s first lead at 53-52. Taylor Boeding converted the back end of two free-throws with :29 to bring the game within two, but Dickey countered with a move from the right baseline off transition and Parsons added two more free throws before Schneider could get a bucket in transition with only four seconds left in the game. Wapello then ran the clock out on the inbound.
“We just didn’t stay focused,” Head Coach Tony Johnson said. ” There was about four minutes where we didn’t score and we were called for a lot of fouls.”
The first three quarters were all Holy Trinity. Boeding looked to be starting a strong game when she buried two 3-pointers in the first quarter, sandwiching a 3-pointer by Schneider, and Randolph got on the board with her typical scrappy inside play to put Holy Trinity up 11-7. But Parsons put in a free throw and Kirstyn Hank added a bucket for Wapello with :09 left in the first for an 11-10 score at the end of one.
HTC’s defense stepped into the fold in the 2nd quarter only allowing Wapello five points, while Mya Lawlor put up five to lead HTC to a 26-15 lead at the half. The 3rd quarter belonged to Emily Box who found herself in foul trouble for the second game in a row and had to be used sparingly in the second half, but not before putting up six points in the first four minutes of the third quarter. Randolph then went on a run in the last four minutes with six points before Madison Mohrfeld converted with 27 seconds left to set up the fourth quarter.
“We put them on the free throw line a lot,” Johnson said of the fourth quarter collapse. “We put them in that spot…we needed to run our offense.”
The Crusaders, who finished the regular season just one game off .500 at 10-11, will host New London in the first round of regionals on Thursday beginning at 7 p.m. There is a $6 entry fee for all fans for state games. HTC has beaten New London twice this year 62-40 on Jan. 3 and 39-37 last week. Randolph is averaging 13.5 points per game against the Tigers and Ashlyn Haas scored 23 in the first meeting, including 4-of-4 from 3-point land.
“It’s on them now. They’re gonna have to take control of it,” Johnson said.
Boeding finished the game with 11 points, followed by Schneider with 9, Box had 8, Lawlor chipped in with 5 and Mohrfeld and Samantha Hoenig each added four points for HTC.