BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Holy Trinity girls basketball coach Tony Johnson said the Crusaders still aren’t playing their best basketball, but Monday’s 60-43 win over Mt. Pleasant was pretty darned close.
The Crusaders shot 47.8% from the field featuring senior Emily Box who scored 25 on the night to lead all scorers. Senior Taylor Boeding followed up her 18-point performance last week in a loss to Central Lee, with 15 points Monday. Junior Ashlynn Haas also added 15 for HTC.
The girls opened the game on a 14-4 run in the first quarter as the Lady Panthers couldn’t figure out HTC’s proficiency getting the ball inside to Box who scored eight in the first period and pulled down five rebounds.
Box said the game wasn’t nearly as physical as the Central Lee game Friday night where the Crusaders comeback fell short 50-46..
“They were playing a man-to-man and we had a lot of looks where I was wide open tonight,” Box said after the game. She’s currently fourth in the Southeast Iowa Superconference in scoring at 14.1 points per outing.
She said this year she feels more comfortable with the ball in the lane and from about 10 feet.
“It’s just coming with more experience being on the court. I’m out there more this year because I’m not getting into as much foul trouble,” she said.
In between Box’s points in the first quarter, Boeding shot a cool 2-6 for five points but began to heat up in the second quarter hitting a couple of 3-balls from the left baseline. After Mt. Pleasant’s Sadie Carasco scored at the end of the first quarter, Lydia Stewart opened the second quarter with a three-pointer for Mt. Pleasant to cut the lead to seven.
But Boeding would hit from the left side to start an 11-0 run with a bucket from Box and two more long balls from Boeding and Haas to push the lead to 27-9. The Panthers would make a couple free throws and Haas would add two for HTC as the Crusaders stretched the lead to 31-19 at halftime. The Panthers Karsyn Lamm would get a put-back to fall at the buzzer to set the score at the half.
Haas and Boeding were able to keep the inside game working as the Crusaders would work the ball around the perimeter looking for interior passing lanes or open looks. At several points Boeding and Haas would have open 18-footers, but would step back outside the arc to shoot the three.
“Three games ago we looked at film and we had a lot of shots where our toe or heel were on the line, so if you’re gonna shoot a 19-footer you might as well step back. I’m fine with that if it’s in the flow of the game,” Johnson said.
“If they’re gonna triple team Box, you’re gonna be wide open you might as well shoot ’em. If you make ’em they’re going to have to come out and then Box can score at will inside. I want that inside/out game, but I like it when we can bet the ball inside like we did tonight.”
The Panthers would never make a charge in the second half with HTC holding a consistent 13 to 16 point advantage throughout the game. Box and Haas scored back to back buckets with about 4:30 minutes left in the game to give Holy Trinity a 20-point lead at 55-35. Mt. Pleasant would get two buckets from Stewart and a bucket from senior Maddie Williamson to cut the lead to 16 again, but HTC’s constant half-court trap pressure kept the Panthers out of it’s half-court set for a good portion of the night.
Johnson said the Crusaders worked hard at improving pressure on the ball after baskets over the holiday.
“You give me 11 days.. we can get a lot done in 11 days. We worked on it immensely over the break. We just ran it right, finally,” he said. “We haven’t really run it right all year. We did it last year with Brett (Schneider) up front and she was key, but now we’re running Claire (Pothitakis) and Mya (Lawlor) who was playing for the first time in three weeks because of her knee. They’re starting to adapt to it.”
In addition to the 55 points from Box, Boeding and Haas, Eryn Anderson added three and Pothitakis fired in two for the Crusaders who move to 7-5 with the win. Box had nine rebounds in the game for HTC and Pothitakis had five.
The girls take on Danville Tuesday night in a girls/boys varsity double header beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday night. Saturday is the annual cake auction where the Crusaders will take on crosstown rival Fort Madison at home. Cakes will be auctioned off between games. Both junior varsity and varsity boys and girls teams will play with games starting at 2 p.m.