BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WEST BURLINGTON – Holy Trinity used speed and a bit “craftiness” to hang around with West Burlington on Tuesday night at the Falcon’s gym.
However, the Crusaders got caught up in an 11-5 fourth quarter run by the Falcons and couldn’t get back in the game falling 51-57 in Southeast Iowa Superconference boys’ basketball action to move to 1-3 on the year.
With a 42-38 lead going into the final period, the Falcons scored six unanswered to start the period before HTC sophomore Reed Fehseke converted a 3-pointer from the right wing to put the Crusaders back on top by one 45-44. But West Burlington’s junior Jonah Marlow answered with a bucket that would give the Falcons an advantage they wouldn’t relinquish as the Crusaders would only manage four free-throws the rest of the way failing to convert on any shots from the field.
The Crusaders also lost senior Collin Thornton in the fourth quarter when Thornton drove from the left side and was called for a charge. Thornton fell to the ground with several other bodies on the play and hurt his wrist and wouldn’t return.
“Yeah, he hurt is wrist on that play. We hope to have him back on Friday,” said Head Coach John Hellige. “Obviously losing your sole senior really hurts in that stretch, but I was proud of our underclassman. I thought they stepped up and played hard.”
The Falcons rushed out to a 5-0 start in the first quarter and looked to be outmanning the Crusaders, but speed and some clutch outside shooting, coupled with sophomore Matt Hellige’s play inside the lane against some much taller opponents, kept HTC in the game.
Fehseke nailed a 3-pointer with just over four minutes to play in the opening period to knot the game at 10, but the Falcons’ Tanner Snodgrass answered with a three of his own and Colten Hohenthaner converted a bucket before Thornton answered with another 3-pointer to make it 16-13 Falcons.
West Burlington would push the lead to 21-13 but then Fehseke connected on back-to-back three pointers from the left side of the offense and Quentin Schneider converted inside to tie the game again at 21. Marlow, who would lead all scorers with 21 points, hit again from long range and then Thornton banked in a 3 and the Crusaders were within one 24-25 at the end of the first half.
HTC went on an 10-5 run to start the third quarter highlighted by Hellige’s eight points and an Adam Rauenbuehler bucket. But West Burlington went on their own 8-5 run with Marlow accounting for six points to make it 30-38 HTC at the end of the third.
Hellige said West Burlington made adjustments throughout the game to stop HTC’s momentum at different points, specifically switching up defenses to slow Hellige in the paint and Fehseke on the perimeter.
“I think they started keying just a little bit. Matt’s a little crafty for his size under there and sometimes teams underestimate that,” Hellige said. “I think they made an adjustment and covered him up there. He’s a good coach and good coaches adjust – and good teams adjust.”
“I was proud of our effort,” Hellige said. “We keep taking steps in the right direction and grow a little each day. I feel like they’re learning our system. Were taking little steps forward every time. Our plays were way out of whack the first two games and we’re still not there, but we’re getting closer.”
Holy Trinity ended a four-game road stretch with the loss, but gets it’s first home test on Friday night as Cardinal of Eldon rolls into town.