BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Holy Trinity Head Coach Tony Johnson had visions of a collapse in his head, but the HTC Lady Crusaders put those fears to rest with a 59-34 win to kick off Region 6 district play.
HTC came out in a three-quarter press and raced to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter capped by a steal and layup by Mya Lawlor right after Lawlor had converted inside on the previous possession. The Tigers first three buckets came from Camryn Blint who had two buckets and a 3-pointer, but by the time she converted the second bucket Holy Trinity was already up 18-7 with about six minutes left in the first half.
Junior Brett Schneider led Holy Trinity in the first quarter with eight points including two 3-pointers and senior Ali Randolph had six in the quarter including two free throws to give HTC a comfortable lead 22-8. Sophomore Taylor Boeding got a 3-pointer with 2:50 left in the first half to push HTC’s lead to 25-8. Blint scored again with about 10 seconds left in the 2nd quarter to send the teams into the lockerroom 25-10.
Johnson said one of the keys to the win would have to be containing New London’s Madysen Wahls who leads the conference in assists with 138 on the season and is averaging about 11 points per game. Wahls didn’t score until about 2 minutes left in the game.
“Our biggest thing was defense tonight. We had to keep the Wahls girl from driving and we just had to stay patient on offense…not get crazy and stay under control,” Johnson said.
The third period started slowly for both teams. Randolph converted a three-point play right off the bat but then neither team could find the net until about four minutes left in the quarter when Boeding scored on a drive from the right side of the lane. New London’s Sydni Coleman scored on back-to-back trips down the court for the Tigers before Randolph made both ends of a one-and-one situation to push HTC’s lead to 18, 32-14.
Johnson then started having flashbacks to Saturday’s loss to Wapello where his team had an 18-point lead at the end of the 3rd quarter. After a few quick sloppy possessions by both teams, Johnson had seen enough and called a time out at about the five minute mark in the 3rd. Freshman Ashlyn Haas came out of the timeout and promptly dropped a 3-pointer for her first points of the game. New London came down the floor and got an easy inside bucket from sophomore Alisha Boles.
HTC inbounded against the Tigers first press of the night and had a bit of trouble holding onto the ball but got across the timeline. Johnson again called time out.
“Well we had an 18-point lead at Wapello and we blew it because I didn’t call enough time outs and slow things down,” Johnson said. “Sometimes we let things go and sometimes we let things go too far.”
Boles scored two more times on easy interior buckets off passes from outside the 3-point arc. New London’s Coleman then drained a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter and then Blint came down on the next possession and hit a 3 of her own and the Holy Trinity lead was down to 12.
Haas stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer from the right side to push the lead back to 41-26 and then Randolph took over inside for HTC with two buckets and converting two free throws. Lawlor, who finished with 10 points on the night, also had two-free throws and a bucket in an 8-3 run that pushed HTC back to a 20-point lead 49-29.
New London would only manage five more points the rest of the night while the Crusaders scored 10 points to put the game out of reach.
Johnson put his team in a relaxed press just to put some pressure on New London on the way up the floor.
“It was one of those things that a lot of teams don’t like the pressure so even if we don’t get a steal, it throws off there half court setup,” Johnson said.
The Crusaders now play Burlington Notre Dame on Tuesday at 7 p.m. on the Nikes court.
The Nikes have beaten Holy Trinity twice this year by an average of 28 points. The Nikes feature Johanna Myers who is second in the state in scoring at 24.0 points per game.
Johnson said he hasn’t spent a lot of time working up a game plan for the Nikes but tape watching will be in the near future.
“We will Sunday. I’ll probably watch it tomorrow and the girls will probably watch it Sunday,” he said.
For the Crusaders, Randolph finished with 17 points followed by Schneider with 11 and Lawlor with 10. Boeding had seven, Haas and Emily Box both had six points and Madison Mohrfeld added two.