BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Holy Trinity Crusaders got 17 points from sophomore Quentin Schneider and advanced in Class 1A, District 9 sectionals with a 60-50 win over Winfield-Mt. Union at Shottenkirk Gym Monday night.
In what amounted to a play-in game for the sectionals, the Crusaders and the Wolves faced off to get into the main bracket. With the win, the Crusaders will now face Iowa Mennonite at approximately 8 p.m. on Thursday in Kalona.
“The boys came out a little nervous as you could see in the first quarter, but they were really loose in the lockerroom,” head coach John Hellige said after the game. “But this will give them an opportunity to see a really high caliber team in IMS.”
W-MU jumped out to a quick 5-2 lead on a three pointer by Daunte Oepping and a bucket by Cody McCreight. HTC’s Matt Hellige countered inside and then converted the front end of a one-and-one to make if 5-3. He had another left handed spin move inside on the next possession to tie the game at five, scoring all Holy Trinity’s first five points.
The Crusaders wouldn’t trail again in the first quarter, but did allow the Wolves to tie it up on two different occasions before taking a 13-11 lead into the second quarter. Hellige had seven points to lead Holy Trinity.
HTC was able to capitalize on some very chilly shooting on the part of the Wolves who went just 4 of 16 missing in a wide array of shots inside and long range. HTC shot 5 of 8 from the field in the second quarter, but committed seven turnovers. Sophomore Reed Fehseke hit on three 3-pointers in the period to lead the Crusaders. Quentin Schneider had four in the second quarter, one of which was a nice move inside from the right baseline where he finished with a left handed fingerroll that just cleared the rim and dropped in.
The Wolves warmed up a little after trailing 19-27 at the break, hitting on 6-of-14 from the field and only committed one turnover in the period. They closed the gap to seven at 36-29 with just about 3 minutes left in the quarter when Mitchell Niebuhr converted the back end of a one-and-one and BJ Rogers converted a 3-point when he scored and was fouled by HTC junior Brant Holtkamp.
But Holtkamp redeemed himself on the next possession when he hit for three from the right baseline to push the lead back to 10 points. Holtkamp would hit another from the other side of the baseline just before halftime to give the Crusaders an 11-point lead going into the break.
Despite the chilly night from the field for the Wolves, they did cut the lead to six with about 2:45 left in the game when Bryant Holtkamp convered a three-point play on a hoop and harm, Schneider converted one of two from the free throw line on the next possession, but Oepping scored again with about two minutes to play. The Wolves had to go into foul mode in the final 1:45 and sent HTC to the line ten times where they converted six. Winfield would only get another 3-pointer from Rogers the rest of the way and HTC would hang on for the win.
Schneider, who got whistled for an intentional foul just after the fourth period, has quietly become a player averaging double figures for the Crusaders in the second half of the season.
“He’s got an accelerator for sure. He’s a great athlete who can jump and score but like most of the kids on this team, they’re having some trouble finding the brake,” he said.
Schneider said the improvement in his game has come just from hard work.
“I just come out and try to play the best I can every night,” he said. “I try to do my best on every play and I work hard in practice so I can help my team.”
The sophomore was a state runner for the Fort Madison boys track squad and also plays baseball for HTC and football for Fort Madison.
Fehseke finished with 15 points on the night, Hellige had 12, and senior Collin Thornton had 10 to round out the Crusaders in double figures. Thornton went 7-11 from the free throw line including 4 of 6 in the final 1:15 to help seal the win for HTC. Holtkamp had six points in the win.
McCreight had 15 for the Wolves who end their season at 3-19.