BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A 31-4 second quarter blowout by Burlington Notre Dame sent Holy Trinity to their eighth loss of the season as the Nikes downed the Crusaders 62-45 in boys high school basketball action Friday.
The Crusaders led at the end of the first quarter and outscored the visitors 20-12 in the third quarter, but the second quarter shutdown proved too much to overcome for the young HTC squad.
“Sometimes with young teams you get a mental block,” Head Coach John Hellige said. “We took the second quarter off and regrouped at halftime. I continue to be very proud of these boys. We’re basically playing four sophomores, two juniors and a freshman night in and night out. They’re getting better every game, every possession.”
Sophomore Matt Hellige scored a quiet 17 points on the night, and a conversion with about two minutes left in the first quarter put the Crusaders up 8-2. But the Nikes’ Jaxon Osborn converted two free throws and then another bucket in the lane on Notre Dame’s next possession to bring the game within two. Quentin Schneider, who tied his season-high with 10 points on the night, converted the first of two free throws and Hellige scored again inside to give the Crusaders an 11-8 first quarter lead.
Notre Dame shifted into a different gear in the second quarter and took the lead quickly on a bucket by Jett Tjaden at 13-11. Holy Trinity went through a stretch of about 4:45 where they committed six turnovers and four personal fouls, while Notre Dame methodically pulled away, highlighted by Gavin Kies’ 10 points in the final 3:30 of the first half.
The Nikes were able to keep long distance threat Reed Fehseke at bay in the first half holding him without any points and freshman Jake Eaves, who can hit from the outside was kept scoreless the whole game.
“We have some good shooters and they knew we can get hot from outside. They’re very well-coached and I think they covered that up pretty well,” Hellige said. “We’re pretty good from the corner normally and they made the right adjustments.”
Schneider set the tone in the third period with three quick baskets working from the left baseline in the opening minutes, before Notre Dame could get on the board. Kies, who led Notre Dame with 18 points, hit a 3-pointer to keep the lead above 20, but then Fehseke was able to get free from the left side as the Crusaders continued to be patient and work the ball inside and out against Notre Dame’s zone defense. Fehseke hit two 3-pointers back-to-back to cut the lead to 17.
Ryle Koenig converted a three-point play after getting fouled by HTC’s Blake Crabtree in the lane to push the lead back to 20. Hellige scored five unanswered points and then Schneider scored again inside to cut the lead to 16 at the end of three. Crabtree opened the fourth with his only bucket of the night to cut the lead to 14, but that’s a close as the Crusaders would get as Koenig scored two quick buckets and then added a 3-point play after a Hellige bucket to put the lead back at 20 with just over three minutes left in the game.
“What were trying to do is have a four-quarter game where we have confidence throughout all four quarters. Tonight I thought we did a great job of playing strong defense and attacking the basket, but we just didn’t get that execution for the whole game,” Hellige said after the game.
“What we’ve been really talking about is effort and execution. I told the boys during a timeout our effort is there. We’re diving for the balls, blocking out and playing good defense. But the execution portion wasn’t there. We fumbled some passes and made poor decisions and that’s going to happen with a young team. When we clean up the execution part, I’m pretty confident the effort is going to be there with these boys and there will be better days ahead.”
Fehseke had eight points for HTC, while Adam Rauenbuehler had 4. Blake Crabtree, Cole Thornton and Brant Holtkamp each added two points for the Crusaders.
In the junior varsity contest, the Crusaders won 40-38. Jake Eaves led HTC with 14 points including four 3-pointers. Vasin Thurman scored nine, Chandler Rung had six, Ryan Rees had 4, Jason Thurman scored three points and Kaidin Medland added one.
Holy Trinity, now 2-8 on the season, hosts Van Buren on Tuesday.