Crusaders open with win at New London

HTC senior Maria Rauenbuehler chases down a loose ball in the second quarter of Tuesday's win over New London. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

Four HTC girls score in double figures in 56-44 win


NEW LONDON – It seemed more like a scrimmage than a game.

With a smattering of applause from about 40 people in attendance, the Holy Trinity Crusaders won their season opener 56-44 at New London Tuesday night.

There was a sense of uncertainly in the air. Officials could be heard talking on the floor and coaches could be heard in the huddle, but basketball was being played.

And four Crusaders, led by sophomore Brooke Mueller’s 15, scored in double figures for head coach Tony Johnson.

Johnson said the environment was different, but he told the girls it would be like a practice.

“Not having fans and cheerleaders makes a difference. That’s noise and it’s a huge difference,” he said. “It was weird but I thought the girls handled it well.”

Senior Bailey Hellweg opened things up with the hot hand hitting a 3-pointer from the left baseline to put HTC up 3-0. She would connect on another, and convert two buckets in transition, one off a steal to help the Crusaders to a 16-7 first quarter lead.

Johnson said when Bailey hit on her first three shots he thought she was in for a big night.

HTC freshman Mary Kate Bendlage works a post move on New London’s Keaura Williams in Tuesday night’s season opening 56-44 win over New London on the road. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

“When girls hit their first couple that’s usually a good sign, but I think she got a bit tired in the legs. She played a lot of minutes and I thought she did a good job handling the ball.”

Bailey would cool off after the first period going 0-9 the rest of the game.

The Crusaders were missing junior Kassi Randolph and freshman Natalie Randolph, who will help bring the ball up the floor.

“Honestly, I’ve always had a point guard in my pocket. But right now we’re doing it by committee with Raquel (Schneider), Bailey and Maria (Rauenbuehler). That was my biggest concern. But they all did a real good job with the number of minutes they played,” Johnson said.

Holy Trinity would extend it’s lead to 25-7 to open the second period capped by a Mueller bucket inside. But New London would go on a 11-2 run led by Ashlyn McSorley’s six points. Sophomore Natalie Burden would hit a 3-ball to cap the first half and bring the Lady Tigers back within 11.

Bendlage would score nine of her 12 points in the third period working the inside against Keaura Williams and moving along the baseline. Bendlage would put a fake on New London’s Marah Hartrick and then race in from the left baseline for a layup to give the Crusaders a 31-18 lead.

She would score again on an inbound pass in the lane after New London had cut the lead to nine with 4:59 left in the third.

Rauenbuehler would score off a steal to make it 35-22. HTC would then force another turnover on New London’s next possession before Schneider would slide a nifty baseline pass into a cutting Bendlage who converted inside and was fouled by Williams. She would make the freebie to put HTC up comfortably 40-22 going into the final period.

Then Mueller took over as New London adjusted to quiet Bendlage. Mueller would put in 10 in the final period, eight in the paint and a couple of free throws.

“She’s got a good post move and she’s going strong to the basket,” Johnson said. “She played quite a bit last year as a freshman so this wasn’t so overwhelming for her.”

New London closed the gap to 10 on a 9-0 run late in the 4th but ran out of time as Mueller scored from the free throw line as time expired for the 56-44 win.

Bendlage would finish with 12 points on the night, followed by Schneider’s 11, Hellweg had 10. Rauenbuehler finished with five points include a 3-pointer, Kayla Box had two points and Regan Holvoet added a free throw.

The Crusaders are now off until Tuesday when the travel to WACO for a boys/girls, jayvee/varsity set.

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