BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Head Coach John Hellige said the Holy Trinity boys basketball team would have a season of learning and some growing pains.
And Tuesday’s 70-41 loss at the hands of Trenton Massner and the Wapello Indians provided his young squad with a learning experience facing a senior-laden, athletic, and physical squad.
The Indians’ Trenton Massner, who is leading both the Southeast Iowa Superconference north and south division in scoring with 21 points per game, had a couple of dunks in the game, one on a one-hander in the middle of the paint and the other on an alley-oop down the right baseline.
Massner only scored 17 in the game, but was pulled early in the fourth quarter when the Indians had the game in hand.
The young Crusaders, led by sophomore Reed Fehseke’s 12 points, methodically and patiently worked their offense and half-court defense with mild pressure on the Indians throughout the game.
Despite the Indians racing out to a 20-9 first quarter lead, the Crusaders battled back to make it an eight-point game with two minutes left in the first half at 19-27 on a Matt Hellige bucket inside. But then Wapello pushed the lead back to 18 on a 10-0 run with five coming from Massner and several turnovers by the Crusaders in the frenzied pace of Wapello’s game.
“It’s all part of growing up and we want to play the good teams. They expose your weaknesses,” Hellige said. “I told the boys at halftime we don’t usually travel and we traveled 10 to 12 times tonight. I really thought the first quarter and a half we played very well. We were down eight with the ball and we traveled and did some other stuff.”
HTC couldn’t get much going in the second half with Wapello pushing the lead over 30 points on several occasions. Blake Crabtree got hot in the fourth quarter hitting a couple 3-pointers from the right baseline on back-to-back possessions to cut in the Indians 33-point lead and Fehseke added a 3-pointer with just seconds remaining for HTC.
“We were younger guys versus a very talented, very strong, senior-dominated team,” Hellige said. “We’re gonna continue to work over the holidays and do some fun things. We’ll practice most days with the exception of a few days and get ready for New London. It’s teams like this that really get us ready for the second half of the season.”
Hellige said the Crusaders are coming along in terms of development, but there is still room for improvement.
“We’re not quite where we need to be, but my attitude is that we continue to improve, stay patient and positive, and work toward our goals.”
Hellige, Crabtree, and Jake Eaves all had six points for HTC. Brant Holtkamp had five points, Quentin Schneider had four, and Adam Rauenbuehler had two.
The Crusaders are 2-6 on the year and travel to New London on Jan. 2.