BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
FORT MADISON – There was nothing wrong with the defense of the Holy Trinity boys basketball team — holding Van Buren to just four points in the first 14 minutes of Tuesday’s game was a good sign of that.
Scoring points of their own was a problem for the Crusaders, but they solved it just enough to take a 39-32 win.
Holy Trinity nearly let a 13-point halftime lead get away, but found enough points in the closing minutes.
“It was just a grinder,” Holy Trinity coach John Hellige said. “Hats off to the kids for staying with it. Our offense just didn’t seem to flow for some reason. But I told the kids if you play hard defense, and rebound, you’re going to be in games even if your offense isn’t where you want it to be.”
Van Buren (3-12) had just one point in the first 7:43 of the game — the Warriors’ biggest offensive burst in that quarter was a 3-point play by Tony Davison with 17 seconds left.
The Crusaders (6-10) scored the first eight points of the second quarter, but didn’t score over the final 2:24 of the half. Van Buren’s Wyatt Mertens scored the final five points of the quarter, and the Warriors trailed just 17-9 at halftime.
Holy Trinity led 26-18 in the third quarter before Mertens hit a 3-pointer to start a 9-2 run.
The Crusaders didn’t have a field goal over the final 4 1/2 minutes, but made 9-of-13 free throws to hold off the Warriors.
“We missed some easy bunnies that we typically make,” Hellige said. “Some nights it’s just hard to explain.”
Van Buren had a chance to tie the game with less than a minute to go, but Davison missed a jumper. The Warriors would score just one point the rest of the game.
Jason Thurman led Holy Trinity with 12 points. Matt Hellige had seven points, all in the second half. Vasin Thurman also had seven points.
“It was just an hour and a half of sheer will and determination,” Coach Hellige said. “I think the boys showed that tonight. Would I have liked to come out and score 65 or 70 points? Yeah. But at the end of the day, a win’s a win. We won five games all of last season, we’ve won six games to this point this year. We just need to keep grinding.”