BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Holy Trinity wiped out a six point deficit at the end of the third quarter but fell just :04 seconds short of knocking off visiting Mediapolis Saturday night at Shottenkirk Gymnasium in a 61-60 loss in girls high school basketball action.
Crusaders senior Emily Box hit a short jumper in heavy traffic with :09 remaining in the game to tie it at 60. Mediapolis got the ball down the floor quickly behind the Crusaders press and junior Ashlynn Haas had to foul sharp-shooting Maya Johnson to stop a layup. Johnson, who finished with 32 points, including six 3-balls, missed the front end of the double bonus, but hit the next in what would be the game winning shot.
Mediapolis would call a timeout to set up a defense for the final four seconds and came out in a full-court zone press. Senior Taylor Boeding got tied up on the inbounds pass and a four-second scramble ensued resulting in a tie up with no time remaining.
HTC Head Coach Tony Johnson said he was happy with the girls’ full-game effort.
“They went maximum effort in the fourth quarter and that’s really all you can do,” he said.
“We wanted to get the ball to a runner across the middle and try to get a breakaway down the middle on that last play.”
The Bulldogs kept Holy Trinity at a five-to seven point deficit for most of the night, with the Crusaders making timely runs, the first of which came on a 6-0 run in the first quarter down 6-2. Senior Mya Lawlor drove in from the right side and got hacked in the act, converting the front end of the two freebies. Mediapolis would commit back-to-back turnovers before Boeding lofted a shot from the left baseline that missed. Box was there to clean it up and then Boeding hit a 3-pointer on the next trip to give the Crusaders an 8-6 lead at 5:14 in the first period.
Mediapolis would then shut the Crusaders down for about three minutes going on a 9-1 run capped by a Ruthie Jahn jumper from about 13 feet on the right side. At 17-9, Boeding squared up from outside the 3-point arc and was knocked over on the shot by the Bulldogs’ Mackenzie Springsteen and cooly laced three freebies in a row to cut the lead to five. Mediapolis would push the lead to 22-14 at the end of the first period when Helaina Hillyard hit a five-foot runner at the buzzer.
Holy Trinity would outscore Mediapolis 14-11 in the second quarter highlighted by senior Eryn Anderson’s five points. Lawlor cut the lead to four at 26-30 when she crept inside the lane and pulled down an offensive rebound after Boeding and Haas both missed. Lawlor was fouled on the play and hit one of the two free throws.
Johnson would convert a 3-pointer to push the lead back to 33-26. Anderson would answer on a driving layup in the lane in transition for a 28-33 halftime score.
Boeding would score nine points on three-3-pointers in the third period as the Crusaders went 5-of-9 from the field in the period but couldn’t cut the lead any closer than three at 43-46.
With 4:15 left in the game, Anderson missed on a drive, but Box was there to clean it up and was fouled by freshman Catie Cross on the play. Box missed the free throw, but the lead was cut to 51-53. Anderson committed her fifth foul on a Maya Johnson drive. Johnson hit the back end of the free throws to give the Bulldogs a three point lead, but Haas would bury a three pointer in front of the Crusaders’ fans on the left side to tie the game at 54.
Johnson would get free on the next trip down the floor on the right side to counter with a 3-ball. HTC missed on its next two attempts and Johnson got to 31 points with another 3-pointer. With the Crusaders down 54-60 Box got the ball inside and rimmed one off the back, but sophomore Claire Pothitakis grabbed the board on the left side and pitched it back up against the glass for the bucket getting fouled on the play. She missed the free throw and Tony Johnson called a time out.
HTC was able to stop Mepo on the next trip down the floor and Lawlor converted in transition on the way back down to cut the lead to two at 58-60, where Box would tie it up on the next trip.
Box led the Crusaders with 18 points on the night, followed by Boeding with 15 and Anderson 13. Lawlor and Ashlynn Haas each had six points for HTC and Pothitakis had two.
Anderson said the team is coming together earlier this year than in year’s past as state volleyball cuts about a week out of practices.
“That takes about a week of practice time and we always have that slump at the beginning of the season, but this year we did some two-a-day workouts and that has helped.,” she said.
Johnson said he was happy with the balanced scoring and the problems that can cause for opposing teams.
“That’s pretty much been that way so far this year. Really there’s not one girl you can guard and that’s what we’re looking to do,” he said. “I’d rather have four girls with 15 than one girl that can put up 35.”
He said ball control has been much improved over last year with the experience being gained over the years by Boeding, Haas, and Lawlor.
“I’ve got two senior guards and a junior guard that have pretty much been playing since they were freshmen and they’ve been doing a pretty good job. We’re limiting our turnovers, and that experience is showing.”
Holy Trinity falls to 2-2 on the year, but have lost the two games by a total of 11 points. They host New London on Tuesday night.