BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PACKWOOD – It got out of hand early, and despite a solid third quarter, the Holy Trinity boys basketball team’s season ended Thursday night at Pekin 74-42 in Class 1A districts.
Junior Reed Fehseke led the Crusaders with 15 points, including a 3-ball from about 23 feet out on the left wing in the second quarter. He was the only Crusader in double figures on the night.
HTC finishes the season 5-15.
Head Coach John Hellige said the season was tough and the Crusaders had trouble building on the momentum of a three-win stretch in the middle of the season, due to weather causing inconsistent scheduling and practices.
“You know, at times this year we’ve played outstanding. We’ve put together quarters and halves where we played as good as anybody,” Hellige said.
“We just had a lot of trouble capitalizing on that momentum we had going in the middle of the season,” Hellige said. “With all the cancellations, and I’m not putting a crutch on any of this, but it was hard to get any continuity going. This isn’t the type of team that can handle not practicing three or four times a week.”
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The game opened for Holy Trinity with shooting that was similar to the frigid temperatures outside. Only junior Quentin Schneider and senior Brant Holtkamp converted buckets from the field as HTC went just 2-10 in the period and Pekin raced out to a 19-9 lead.
The Crusaders shot much better in the second half, but just couldn’t get any looks, converting three of six shots from the field. Blake Crabtree banked in a three to cut the lead to 12 at 27-15 prompting Pekin to take a 30 second timeout.
Out of the timeout, HTC committed four straight turnovers in the middle of an 8-0 run that put the Panthers up by 20.
Fehseke would convert a bucket off the dribble in the lane to end the streak, but then Holy Trinity would have trouble finding the handle again, coughing up the ball a couples times in another 9-0 run by Pekin that put the hosts up 44-17 at the half.
The Crusaders put together their best run of the night in the third period behind Fehseke’s seven points. Senior Adam Rauenbuehler put in four as HTC outscored Pekin 17-14, but the game was too far out of hand to have an impact.
Fehseke would add another 3-ball from the top of the key as Pekin ran away with the lead at 64-37. Sophomore Jason Thurman also added a long-ball in the period and Vasin Thurman put in a couple free throws to end the scoring for HTC.
Hellige said he was happy with the way his team played in the second half, but they knew Pekin was a well-rounded team that would be tough to beat.
“We just told the kids to come in, be tough, gritty, and play hard, and hopefully hit some shots, but we came out a little flat,” he said. “I thought we did some good things in the second half, especially in that third period.”
Hellige complimented the play all year of seniors Rauenbuehler, Holtkamp, and Kyle Bredemeyer.
“Brant was one of the best in program history, given his size, in finding a way to get the basket and get buckets and Adam is probably one of the best defenders we’ve had in the program at creating steals and being in the right spot,” Hellige said.
“Kyle was a great addition this year, he was strong defensively and a good communicator and his offense started to come around in the second half, too.”
Holtkamp, who plays basketball and golf for the Crusaders, said the team fell a bit short.
“I think we didn’t did as well as we could, but there are a lot of really good team down here. But I just enjoyed the competition of it,” Holtkamp said.
Rauenbuehler said the Crusaders played a lot of good teams better than they have in the past, but said height was an issue.
Holtkamp finished with eight points on the night and Schneider had six. Rauenbuehler and Crabtree each had four on the night. Jason Thurman finished with three and Vasin Thurman had two.
Junior Matt Hellige, who averages about 11 points per game, was battling a sore ankle and was held scoreless, but led the Crusaders with four rebounds on the night.