BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A late rally behind some sparkling shooting from Fort Madison’s Camille Kruse fell just short as the Lady Hounds lost at home to crosstown rival Holy Trinity Catholic 45-44.
The Crusaders built a 10-point lead just a minute into the third period. But a 9-0 run highlighted by three consecutive three-pointers, two from junior Nadia Boeding and one from Kruse, cut the lead to just three with two minutes remaining in the period.
Avery Hopper converted a couple of free throws to push the lead back to five, but then the Hounds got into some foul trouble committing four in less than 90 seconds.
Hopper would convert inside on a nice pass from sophomore Raquel Schneider to give HTC a 35-28 lead going into the final period.
With HTC starting the fourth 0-6 from the field, Fort Madison would gouge their way back into the game and trailed by just one after Kruse scored on a floater in the paint.
Hopper would respond with a three-ball at the other end. After a defensive stop, Schneider would score on a drive from the left baseline to put HTC back up by six.
Fort Madison’s Brandy Walker would miss a jumper at the free throw line that was rebounded by Anna Kester, but Kester would also misfire with about 2:10 left in the game.
The two teams would exchange a couple turnovers and then Kruse would connect on another of her seven 3-pointers on the night to cut the lead to three at 40-37. Kruse would lead all scorers with 27 points on the night.
Fort Madison Head Coach Tony Sargent said Kruse has had this type of game in her all season.
“It’s the type of game she’s had in her all year, but we just have to get some of the other girls going, too,” Sargent said.
Kruse gave credit for the success to her teammates finding her on the perimeter.
“My teammates gave me good looks and that’s how I got the good shots,” Kruse said.
“Hopefully this will give a little boost to get more wins this season. This is a wakeup call for sure, but it’s a boost for us. Toward the end we could have played a little better defense.”
Holy Trinity would hold a 3 to 4 point lead for the next minute and a half, but with the Crusaders up 44-41, Kruse took a pass on the perimeter, pulled up and buried another three pointer with a Crusader in her face. Kruse added a little arch, sensing the defense, and the ball slipped through clean to knot the game at 44 with 18 seconds left.
Fort Madison would call a timeout after the bucket to set up a defense, but Kruse would get whistled for a foul at the Crusader end of the floor. HTC senior Ashlyn Haas would hit one and miss the bonus for the 45-44 lead.
On the inbound, Fort Madison would get the ball down the floor, but Holy Trinity junior Bailey Hellweg would get whistled for a foul near the Fort Madison bench forcing a restart. The Hounds would commit a double dribble after the inbounds pass giving the ball back to HTC.
Senior Anna Kester would foul to stop the clock putting HTC in the double bonus, but Haas would miss both ends with :02.5 left on the clock.
Fort Madison would get a pass to midcourt and Walker would turn to find Kruse open on the right wing, but the freshman couldn’t quite get her feet set for the shot and had to throw up a buzzer beater that fell short.
Sargent said the Hounds had opportunities to win the game, but made some mental blunders in the final 16 seconds.
“Just had some really bad mental mistakes and not knowing how to finish a game,” Sargent said.
HTC Head coach Tony Johnson said he wanted the ball in either Ashlyn’s or Avery’s hands at the end of the game.
Johnson rotated Hopper into the guard position and said he’s trying to platoon Hopper, Haas, and Maria Rauenbuehler in the number one spot.
“I thought we ran the offense well and got some really good shots. We missed a couple easy ones, but we were able to get it inside when we needed to,” Johnson said.
Johnson was short Kassi Randolph, and freshman Brooke Mueller left the game in the third period with a stomach issue.
Johnson said that forced him to run the final quarter with just five players in the rotation.
“I thought we got some good play from our younger girls. Schneider had a good game late and I thought Brooke was playing very well inside,” he said.
Hopper led Holy Trinity with 14 and Claire Pothitakis had 11. Boeding and Brandy Walker each ended up with six for Fort Madison.