BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Crusaders struggled to get anything going on the perimeter Tuesday against Danville in a 65-46 loss that snapped a three-game winning streak that started before the holiday.
In Southeast Iowa Superconference boys basketball action, the Bears’ physical style of play kept the Crusader’s with few shots off the perimeter and turned the game inside to junior Matt Hellige who scored in double figures again with 19.
Head Coach John Hellige said it was the Crusaders game plan to get some more open looks for junior Reed Fehseke outside, but the Bears were able to push through screens being set at the top of the freethrow line forcing HTC to play their offense in the paint.
“There were keyed in on Reed and it just didn’t seem we could get him open running off any screens,” Hellige said. “We would have liked to see him get some more shots.”
Fehseke is averaging close to 11 points per outing, was held to just seven on the night including two three-pointers.
The Crusaders trailed from the opening tip as Danville hit four 3-balls, three from senior Max Wilcox, before scoring anything inside the arc. HTC got a bucket from Adam Rauenbuehler and a three from Fehseke in the run, but the Bears opened up a quick 12-5 lead and would stretch it to 21-11 at the end of one. Wilcox put up 11 of the Bears first quarter points.
Holy Trinity would start the second quarter with a bucket by Vasin Thurman off a nifty inlet pass from junior Quentin Schneider. Then junior Blake Crabtree would take advantage of four personal fouls on the Bears and connect on three free throws. The Crusaders would also get buckets from Hellige underneath and a 12-foot jumper from senior Brant Holtkamp to cut the lead to five at 24-19.
Danville wouldn’t convert on the next possession and Hellige scored on a one hander off the dribble in the paint to bring the Crusaders within three 24-21, but that would be as close as they would get on the night. Danville seniors Taran Nelson and Reid Yaley both hit 3-balls to push the lead back to eight at 30-22. The Bears’ Elijah Svoboda who score to end the first half at 33-24.
Hellige would score all the Crusaders third quarter points, but Danville would push the lead to 12 at 44-32 with Taylor Kennsett scoring six from the post in the lane.
The closest HTC would get in the fourth quarter would be 12 at 39-51 with Hellige scoring again inside with the Bears guarding heavy on the arc to keep any runs at bay.
John Hellige said the Bears got good performances from their bench with 10 players getting in on the scoring.
“They were super hot from the field tonight,” Hellige said. “I didn’t anticipate some of those roll players stepping up and hitting those shots. Wilcox was real hot in the first half so we kind of changed things up in the second half to key on him.”
He said the physical play may have gotten into the Crusaders heads.
“There was a lot of contact early that caused us to miss shots we normally make, and that shook our confidence a bit, but I thought we had some good momentum in the second half, we just ran out of gas in the fourth quarter.”
Matt Hellige led all scorers with 19 points to go with Fehseke’s seven. Holtkamp had six points and Schneider added four. Crabtree and Kyle Bredemeyer each finished with three points, while Thurman and Rauenbuehler both had two. Schneider led the Crusaders in rebounds with six on the night. Wilcox led Danville with 16 points and Bryce Carr had 12.
The Crusaders fall to 3-9 on the year and Danville improves to 6-6 on the season and play Saturday against cross-town Fort Madison as part of four-game junior varsity/varsity double header beginning at 2 p.m. The Holy Trinity annual cake auction will also take place on Saturday with the first cakes being auctioned off during halftime of the girls varsity game.