BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WINFIELD – Sometimes you just can’t make sense of it, but whatever, what matters is the Holy Trinity Catholic girls basketball team advanced to the Region 5 semifinals with a 53-38 win over Winfield-Mt. Union on Tuesday night.
With the win, the Crusaders now travel to the halls of Montezuma on Friday night for a 7 p.m. regional semifinal.
The game was wild pretty much the whole night. The Crusaders started the game with ice cold shooting missing from everywhere on the court going 0-5 as the Wolves jumped out to a 4-0 leadon back-to-back buckets inside by senior Lexee Hartsock, which forced a quick time out by HTC head coach Tony Johnson.
The stoppage worked as the Crusaders then came back and raced out to a 14-2 advantage through the rest of the quarter, mostly in transition after breaking the Winfield press. HTC took their first lead with about 1:30 left in the period at 8-6 on a bucket by junior Taylor Boeding. Boeding finished with 11 points to tie the team high with Emily Box.
Holy Trinity ended up shooting 7 of 18 from the field in the first quarter against only one turnover, but the Wolves committed eight turnovers in the press, while shooting three of 7.
HTC would stretch the lead to nine at 20-11 on a three-point play from Madison Mohrfeld who scored inside, was fouled, and the converted the freebie. Winfield was able to convert a bucket on their next possession and then with 3:19 left in the half, sophomore Ashlynn Haas popped a 3-ball from far left side to give the Crusaders a 23-13 lead. Then the wheels fell off…or, as junior Emily Box said after the game with a chuckle…”We took our usual three minutes break and zoned out.”
And that’s exactly what is was as Winfield went on an 11-0 run where Winfield took advantage of several two and three shot possessions where the Crusaders couldn’t seem to find the handle on the ball at either end of the court. Allie McArtor scored on a put-back with four seconds on the clock to give the Wolves a 24-23 lead. HTC rushed down the floor and tossed up a 3-ball that clanked off the back of the rim.
“I would say in the second quarter we got a little out of control,” said senior Brett Schneider. “But I think it says something this time that we were able to fight through it and win in the end.”
The Crusaders, who are 11-12 on the season, have lost five games in the fourth quarter this year and despite the smiles and laughter of the girls working through the second half, they were able to build a lead in the third that they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the game.
Madison Mohrfeld scored the first points of the second half inside to give the Crusaders the lead again and then Box converted two free throws and Mohrfeld hit the front end of a one-and-one to take a 27-24 lead. But Hartsock scored inside again and Karla Schlee made two free throws off a Samantha Hoenig foul to give W-MU another one point advantage. Lauren Jamison scored on the next possession for the Wolves to make it a three-point lead and it seemed as if HTC was going down a familiar road.
But Schneider hit a free throw and then Mohrfeld scored off an offensive rebound to tie the game at 30. At 2:42 HTC’s defense held and Mohfeld was hacked on the next possession down the floor, but only converted the front end of the one-and-one to give HTC a one-point lead. HTC’s press again gave Winfield trouble and the Wolves wouldn’t score again until the final seconds of the period, while the Crusaders raced out to a 37-32 lead going into the final period.
Hartsock again cut the lead to three on a bucket inside which would be the last field goal on the night for W-MU. Boeding connected on her first 3 pointer of the game. She had scored 22 and17 in her last two games, converting nine three pointers over the stretch.
The Crusaders then committed three consecutive personal fouls, but Winfield was only able to convert three of the six free throws.
With Johnson continuing to employ pressure on inbound plays, the Crusaders began committing fouls in the press and sending Winfield to the free throw line while continuing to stop the clock. But again the hosts were unable to capitalize on the frenzied pace of the game, converting only two of six free throws. With about :38 left in the game, Boeding drove the lane and threw up an underhanded scoop shot in the lane drawing a foul. She converted the second of the two free throws to set the final score at 53-38.
“It was pretty nice to have a comeback in the fourth quarter,” Schneider said. “I think that’s a good thing for us.”
Johnson said, as was the case in the second quarter, that different combinations of players have different results and the Crusaders at times suffer with that and at others they succeed.
“It’s whatever is clicking,” Johnson said after the game. “Sometimes we have combinations that aren’t working out and at other times we seem to do all right. I told the girls we were gonna find those combinations and then ride em out until they stopped working.”
He said Box, who fouled out without about two minutes left in the game, and Schneider, can get fouls in a hurry in those frenzied times and that’s something they’ll have to keep an eye on with Montezuma waiting on Friday night.
The Braves feature a couple of six foot post players and are 18-3 with two of their losses coming to undefeated North Mahaska, who sits on the other side of the bracket semifinals facing Iowa Mennonite.
“We’re going to have to really work on boxing out. That’s where they’re really strong and we didn’t do a very good job of that tonight. Winfield had a 250 rebound advantage over us coming into tonight and you could see that in the game.”
Boeding and Box each had 11 to lead a balanced scoring attack for the Crusaders. Brett Schneider had eight for HTC while Mohrfeld and Erin Anderson each added seven points. Samantha Hoenig, Mya Lawlor, and Haas all had three points for HTC. Hartsock led all scorers with 17 points.