BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Despite some cool first quarter shooting, the Holy Trinity girls basketball team sailed to its sixth consecutive win Saturday.
The Crusaders wound up sneaking in a make-up game with WACO Saturday afternoon and rolled to a 62-28 win led by senior Emily Box’s 20-point night.
With the win, the Lady Crusaders move to 12-5 on the year and have won six straight dating back to Jan. 7. Three of HTC’s losses were by a combined eight points. They suffered a lopsided loss to Van Buren in December by 33 points at home, which was their worst loss of the year. Holy Trinity travels to Van Buren on Monday.
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Head Coach Tony Johnson said despite the recent success, the Crusaders haven’t played their best game yet.
“I don’t think we’ve peaked yet,’ he said Saturday. “We’re getting better every game, but we’ve still got some things to get cleaned up. Our goal after Christmas was to get ready for regionals. That’s our focus, and even when we’ve lost we learned something,” he said.
The Crusaders went just 5 of 16 in the first quarter, but WACO had a worse go of it, managing just four shots from the field as HTC’s 1-3-1 press made it tough for the Lady Warriors to get anything going in the half-court set.
The Lady Crusaders’ 3-point specialist, Taylor Boeding, had an off night and didn’t connect on her first long ball until about 1:30 left in the 3rd period. But junior Ashlynn Haas filled in the role and hit two in the first quarter as HTC opened up a 16-6 edge.
Holy Trinity would push the lead to 29-13 at the 3:51 mark of the second period when junior Avery Hopper pulled down a Boeding miss and scored sliding in from the left block.
WACO converted on just two buckets and a couple of free throws in the second and HTC was off to the races with a 41-15 halftime lead.
The Warriors’ senior Claire Schmitz gave a spark in the third with a bucket at 43-19 and then followed with a 3-ball from the right side of the offense to cut the lead to 46-22, but that was all that was in the tank for WACO, as HTC opened a 53-24 3rd quarter lead on back-to-back buckets by Box to end the period.
Johnson was able to substitute heavily in the fourth quarter and emptied the bench with about three minutes left in the game as WACO managed just a bucket by Nadiyah Brown and then missed their final nine shots of the game.
Haas, who finished with 19 on the night, said things are working well for the Crusaders because everyone’s getting more confident on the floor.
“I’ve worked on my shot some and I tweaked it a bit because it wasn’t falling,” she said. “I feel more confident with taking that shot now, so I’m shooting it when I’m open and my teammates are doing well getting me the ball when I’m open.
The Crusaders had seven players score in the game led by Box and Haas. Hopper finished with eight points, while Boeding had seven, junior Claire Pothitakis chipped in with four, senior Mya Lawlor added three, and senior Eryn Anderson scored one.
Johnson said the scoring is fairly balanced and he likes it that way.
“That’s how I want to be. I don’t want to have one girl averaging 20 a night and everybody else with five. That doesn’t work. I want five girls averaging 13, that’s what I’d really like,” he said.
“But we’re more comfortable right now. We’ve simplified some of this. I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes easier is better, so we did that it and it seems to be working for them right now”.
After Monday’s road trip to 14-2 Van Buren, the Crusaders turn around and travel to 11-4 West Burlington on Tuesday.