BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A gritty first half wasn’t enough for the Crusaders as Burlington Notre Dame rolled to an 80-49 win in Southeast Iowa Superconference boys basketball action Monday.
The Crusaders trailed by four 29-25 with under a minute left in the first half as some soft shooting by the Nikes and some physical play inside by Holy Trinity kept the game close. But a 3-pointer by Notre Dame’s Nick Skerik from the right baseline with about four seconds left pushed the lead to seven going into the locker room.
The bucket seemed to take the wind out of the Crusaders sails, and spur the Nikes in the second half as they rolled to a 21-12 third quarter advantage.
Junior Reed Fehseke who put in 20 on Friday night was held to just two points on the night. The Nikes played a stingy man to man defense and Holy Trinity couldn’t get Fehseke any open looks.
With Notre Dame keeping an eye on Fehseke on the perimeter, the Crusaders were able to rotate the ball around to senior Blake Crabtree, who was able to get off three 3-balls in the second half, but HTC couldn’t get much going offensively the rest of the night.
“I thought we played a really good first half and then we gave up that three at the end,” Head Coach John Hellige said.
“We just wanted the kids to play with some grit tonight and I thought they did that. We’re down 30 points with less than a minute to go and I’ve got kids diving on the floor after the ball. If we have that effort against any teams outside of Notre Dame, New London, WACO we’re in those games.”
Notre Dame jumped out to a quick 15-7 lead in the first quarter and then the teams traded buckets for the final two minutes of the opening period for a 21-11 Notre Dame lead.
But HTC was able to navigate a 3/4 press the Nikes used for most of the second half to score in transition and cut the lead to four in the second period outpacing the Nikes 12-6.
Junior Quentin Schneider led Holy Trinity with 14 points including going 6-of-9 from the free throw line. Crabtree finished with 13 points.
Junior Matt Hellige fouled out with about three minutes left in the game and scored seven points on the night. Adam Rauenbuehler went 5-10 from the free throw line and finished with seven points. Senior Kyle Bredemeyer had four points and Brant Holtkamp finished with two on the night.
Axel Tjaden led four Notre Dame players in double figures with 20 points. Riley Koenig had 17.
Holy Trinity takes on Central Lee on the road tonight in a boys jv/varsity matchup with games beginning at 6 p.m.