BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DONNELLSON – Holy Trinity’s very young team came and gave Central Lee’s senior dominated squad a scare Tuesday night… but just a little one.
The Hawks varsity boys basketball team has seven seniors and two juniors and rolled to a 67-49 win over visiting Holy Trinity Catholic Tuesday night in boys basketball action, but not before the Crusaders gave Central Lee coach Evan Swanson something to yell at his team for.
Sophomore Reed Fesheke opened the scoring with a 3-pointer from the right side baseline. HTC then took advantage of three consecutive missed shots by Central Lee, two turnovers and two buckets inside from sophomore Matt Hellige against 6’5″ Evan Doyle to race out to a 10-0 lead. The run forced Swanson to call a time out and get in the ears of his veteran squad.
The move brought both teams back to reality as the Hawks returned the favor three fold and blew to a 30-8 run the rest of the first half.
Holy Trinity didn’t score after the timeout until Hellige hit his third basket with about seven minutes left in the first half.
“It’s just part of growing up. We came out with all the confidence in the world and had them on their heels,” said head coach John Hellige. “Good teams like Central Lee will respond with a run and we’re just not quite there yet where we can go back and forth on runs.”
The third quarter was much of the same for the Crusaders with Central Lee controlling the temp and outscoring HTC 17-7. The Crusaders committed seven turnovers in the period, including four in a row, while Central Lee scored nine points to push the lead to 23. Hellige started the scoring dumping one inside but the Crusaders would go almost six minutes without a score until Fehseke hit a couple free throws. Adam Rauenbuehler hit a 3-pointer and the converted two free throws of his own to make it 27-47 going into the final period.
Fehseke would get hot from long-distance in the final period, but it wouldn’t be enough to erase the 20-point deficit. He started with two 3-pointers after the Hawks’ Isaac Moeller converted a bucket to the start the final eight minutes. The Hawks’ Jared Brisby hit on a bucket and then Moeller converted again off an HTC turnover, but Fehseke came back with a short jumper from the middle of the lane. Blake Crabtree swiped the inbound attempt by Central Lee and converted an easy layup and then Fehseke hit another 3-pointer in transition on the Crusader’s next possession to cut the lead to 15 with 4:08 left in the game.
The Hawks’ Jacob Fraise scored for the Hawks inside and then scored again when Central Lee, who was still in a press, stole the ball on a pass up the court.
The two teams traded buckets the rest of the way to the buzzer, highlighted by seven points from Hellige.
“I really saw a lot of positives,” John Hellige said. “I think we battled really hard in the second half. Their press really didn’t hurt us, but we’re making errors in the half court and that’s expected with a young team, but we’re going to get there. That’s a strong team starting big seniors and we’re still very young.”
He said Hellige had trouble dealing with the taller Doyle in the paint after the first 10-0 run so they changed things up a bit.
“We talked to Matt at halftime and told him not to try and shoot over Doyle. He did a pretty good job of that, but he tested the waters a little bit. We told him to just be confident and try to get into their bodies a little inside,” Hellige said.
Fehseke led all Crusaders with 19 points, followed by Hellige with 15. Rauenbuehler finished with six points, while Brant Holtkamp had five, Jake Eaves had three, and Crabtree had two to round out the scoring for HTC.
Doyle had 19 for the Hawks and Fraise had 14.
The Crusaders host Danville Friday night in a girls/boys varsity doubleheader beginning at 6 p.m.