by John Bohnenkamp
Holy Trinity’s boys basketball team was down 20 points on three occasions in the third quarter of Tuesday’s home game against New London.
But it wasn’t until Seth Bailey cradled the ball out of bounds after the last Crusader basket in the closing seconds that the Tigers felt safe.
Holy Trinity staged a furious rally over the final 10 minutes before falling, 47-43.
The Crusaders, trying to control the tempo all night against the faster Tigers, seemed doomed when New London went on a 16-0 run that started late in the second quarter and ended midway through the third.
But Jason Thurman, who didn’t score in the first half, hit two of his five second-half 3-pointers late in the third quarter, and when Quentin Schneider scored on a layup in the closing seconds, Holy Trinity was within 38-26.
The Crusaders then kept chipping at the lead, getting to within 46-41 on back-to-back threes from Thurman.
The lead could have been cut more as New London missed three front ends of one-and-bonus tries from the free-throw line, but the Tigers got the rebound each time.
“If we get one of those, maybe this is a different game,” Holy Trinity coach John Hellige said.
The Crusaders had a chance to get within two points with under 30 seconds to play, but Thurman’s 3-pointer was long.
Schneider’s layup with five seconds left provided the final margin, then the clock ran out.
“I really applaud the kids for continuing to fight and play hard,” Hellige said. “We made it interesting at the end.
“It could have gotten away from us, but we kept fighting.”
Holy Trinity won at New London, 43-42, on Dec. 10, and Hellige knew the Tigers hadn’t forgotten.
“We knew New London would come in here with high energy,” he said.
So the Crusaders tried controlling the tempo by playing at a slow pace. They were only down 17-13 with 4:38 left to play in the first half, but New London scored the final six points of the half to start the run that put them in control.
“I felt like the first half we were a little tentative,” Hellige said. “We were really trying to control tempo, so we were really deliberate. We weren’t trying to get totally deliberate, but we didn’t want to get into a track meet with them.”
Thurman finished with 15 points. Matt Hellige added 10.