BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WAYLAND – During preseason workouts, Holy Trinity Catholic Head Coach John Hellige said it would be tough to replace the Crusaders solid senior corps.
The Crusaders have dropped their first two games of the year including a 40-67 loss Friday at WACO, and shooting seems to be the biggest problem in the early going.
HTC lost seniors Cory Hopper and Connor Conrad who torched opponents for most of the year last year. Conrad went over 40 points in a single game in the early going last year, but then went down 10 game into the season with a knee injury and never really got back into the swing of the things. Hopper went on to win co-conference player of the year with New London’s Mason Porter, averaging just under 19 points per outing.
This year, the Hounds are relying on a very young team starting just one senior, two juniors and two sophomores, and are still working out the shooting jitters. Friday at WACO the Crusaders went 12 of 53 from the field, led by sophomore Matt Hellige who went 5 of 8 for 14 points.
The Crusaders didn’t get on the board for the first four minutes until they converted a free throw, and trailed 20-6 after the first period. WACO’s sophomore Drew Kissell led the way with 7 points in the quarter and junior Colton Horak added a couple of 3-pointers. Kissell led the Warriors balanced scoring with 15 points. Horak added 13.
The Warriors continued to pressure the young HTC team in the second quarter pushing to the lead to more than 20 ending the half at 43-20.
“We played timid and got down early and couldn’t battle back,” said head coach John Hellige. “We struggled shooting again tonight, but we hope to rebound tomorrow at Mediapolis.”
The second half was much of the same with the Warriors outscoring HTC 17-8 and holding leads by as much as 30 before WACO went to the bench and Holy Trinity was able to make up a little ground in the 4th quarter.
Brant Holtkamp finished with 11 points, senior Collin Thornton added seven points, Jake Eaves finished with four points, Quentin Schneider had three and Adam Rauenbuehler added one. Schneider led the team with seven rebounds on the night.
The Crusaders travel again Saturday to Mediapolis for freshman/ junior varsity/varsity girls/varsity boys matchup with games beginning at 4:30.