BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Holy Trinity boys put up 23 points in the fourth quarter Friday night to make the game look closer that it was, but No. 6 WACO pretty much had their way in a 59-47 win Friday night.
The Warriors (7-0), one of the top 1A teams in the state, used a sliding match-up zone and mixed in some man defense to keep the Crusaders off balance. But it was the virtual complete game full court press that forced HTC into a turnover riddled game.
After a 2-2 tie to start the game on a Quentin Schneider break-away layup, WACO would steadily pull away from HTC over three quarters holding leads as big as 18 in the first half when Pietro Vannini hit a 3-ball after one of HTC’s eight first half turnovers to make it 29-11.
Junior Jason Thurman would counter with a 3-pointer for HTC with 2:23 left in the first half to cut the lead to 15 at 29-14, but HTC wouldn’t convert another field goal in the first half and trailed 31-18 going into the break.
HTC wouldn’t get much hotter in the third period converting just two of eight from the field and a couple free throws and trailed 43-24 at the end of three. Thurman would score six of the Crusaders’ eight points in the third.
After starting the fourth quarter 0-3, HTC started to heat up with the game out of hand. Schneider would convert a 3-point play after getting fouled underneath at 5:43 with the Crusaders down 49-26. But then Matt Hellige would convert another 3-point play before HTC hit three consecutive 3-balls from Chandler Rung, Thurman, and Blake Crabtree to cut the lead to 14 with everyone’s starters still on the floor.
WACO’s 6’7″ Nic Coble got a pass on the wing on a fast break and put home a two-handed dunk to extend the lead to 55-38 and empty the benches. Coble had 19 points to lead all scorers on the night.
Hellige said Coble is an intimidating player who blocks a lot of shots and they were hoping to collapse on him on the post and take their chances with the Warriors outside shooters.
“There was a little bit of intimidation there,” Hellige said.
“He’s a pretty big kid and blocks a lot of shots. We were hoping to get him into some foul trouble and get into his body, but we were a bit tentative.”
The Crusaders mixed in three different defenses on the night to try to neutralize the Warriors offensively.
“I was pretty happy with the man-to-man. We were oversized in a few spots, but the effort was there tonight,” Hellige said.
“WACO is one of the best teams in the conference, and probably in the district, and this is the bar we need to get to so, in a way, it’s good to see it early.”
Jason Thurman had 12 points on the night to lead Holy Trinity. Rung finished with 11, while Schneider had eight, Crabtree had seven, Hellige finished with five, and Vasin Thurman had four to round out the Crusaders’ scoring.
The Crusaders (2-4) travel to Mediapolis on Saturday before getting the holiday break. Hellige said he’s giving the team five full days off to visit with family and enjoy the holidays before getting back after it with a Jan. 3 game at West Burlington.