BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – It was a quiet night on a night when Holy Trinity’s head coach didn’t want a quiet night.
His Crusaders boys basketball team fell 49-40 Tuesday night to visiting Burlington Notre-Dame in a Southeast Iowa Superconference South matchup.
The loss drops Holy Trinity to 10-11 and sends them to their fourth loss in five games heading into Friday’s SEISC Shootout against Pekin in Pekin.
“I think I put too much pressure on the boys tonight,” Head Coach John Hellige said. “They’re really our rival from the north and I think I just put too much on the kids tonight.”
Jack Stinson led the Crusaders with 11 points and nine boards.
HTC battled Notre Dame to a 9-9 tie in the first quarter after not scoring until three minutes left in the 1st period. Bailey Merschman’s five points led the Crusaders, but then they only got nine points in the second period while the Nikes were off to the races with 16 and set a 25-18 first half lead. Senior standout Cory Hopper who’s 2nd in the SEISC South in scoring at 18.7 points per game, didn’t score in the first quarter and only managed four points in the second quarter. Collin Thornton added a bucket and Nick Pothitakis nailed a 3-pointer for the only scoring in that quarter.
The trend continued in the third quarter as Notre Dame outscored the Crusaders 11 to 7 setting up what would amount to another 4th quarter comeback on the part of HTC, who have found themselves in the same position in four of the last five games. Only the Jan. 27 game at Danville was pretty much decided in the fourth quarter.
The Crusaders tried to foul and press their way back into the game, but could get no closer than eight at 44-36 with three minutes left in the game.
“We just didn’t play as smart as Notre Dame did tonight. I think everybody just ran out there too tight,” Hellige said.
Hopper finished with 10 p0ints and a cool 3 of 13 from the field and only 4 of 9 from the free throw line. Seniors Merschman and Pothitakis had eight and seven points respectively. Thornton and Hellweg each added 2 for HTC.
The Crusaders will get a rematch with the Nikes in the District 10 bracket.
“We’ll go back to the drawing board this week and try to iron out bugs. We’ll see them again on the 16th in New London,” Hellige said.
In the junior varsity match, HTC won 46-39 behind Kyle Bredemeyer’s 15 points. Brant Holtkamp had 11 followed by Reed Fesheke with 9, Matt Hellige’s 6 points, Quentin Schneider’s four points and Blake Crabtree’s one.