BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A 25-3 fourth quarter run by the West Burlington Falcons ruined a chance for Holy Trinity Catholic to even out its season on Tuesday night.
The Falcons erased a 29-27 Crusader lead at the end of the 3rd period by shifting into a full court trap press that Holy Trinity’s girls couldn’t seem to figure out as West Burlington raced to a 55-32 win at Shottenkirk Gymnasium.
Once the Falcons employed the press, the Crusaders committed turnover after turnover on errant passes that were picked off and then the Falcons were scoring consistently in transition off the turnovers.
Head Coach Tony Johnson called two time outs in the quarter to try and help the girls regroup and manage the press, but West Burlington was dictating play at that point. The Falcons Annaka Harris had five steals in the quarter and scored 11 points.
Holy Trinity started out with an 8-5 lead after the first quarter and had extended the lead to 11-7 but West Burlington took advantage of four fouls whistled on the Crusaders in a span of about two minutes with five minutes remaining in the half. The Falcon’s Jerri Price went to the free throw line five consecutive times converting four and freshman Sydney Marlow converted two more free throws before Holy Trinity sophomore Avery Hopper scored on an 8-footer from the right side to get the Crusaders back within one at 13-14.
Price would score again with about 40 seconds left in the half and then Crusader senior Brett Schneider converted two free throws to tie the game at 16-16 at the end of the first half.
The HTC defense held West Burlington to just four 3rd quarter baskets, but five Crusader personal fouls in the period put the Falcons at the free throw line five times. The Crusaders took the lead quickly on a Madison Mohrfeld free throw and held a 6-point lead with :34 left in the quarter. Price converted a bucket and then Marlow scored and was fouled at the end of the period, but missed the free throw, setting up the fourth quarter at 29-27 Crusaders.
“I think honestly it was the pressure and then we got down on ourselves,” Schneider said. “I think we just kept turning it over and we kept getting more and more down on ourselves and West Burlington just fed off that. Honestly I think we’re doing pretty well. This was just a bad game that we didn’t work very well together. We just need to put this one behind and keep focusing on what’s ahead.”
Junior guard Taylor Boeding agreed that the Falcons’ press put the Crusaders in a tailspin.
“The pressure got to us. We got flustered. West Burlington, you gotta give them credit, is good at making you play at their pace. We knew it was coming and we didn’t follow our press breaker and didn’t execute,” she said.
Johnson said too many missed shots and errant passes pointed to a lack of focus from the Crusaders.
“We just didn’t catch the ball and look,” he said. “It’s just mental focus. Everyone needs to stay engaged whether you’re making or missing shots and we missed a ton of shots. We should have been up by more than we were. We just have to learn to stay in control and keep our focus.”