BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
FORT MADISON – John Hellige has a new assistant coaching staff this season to help him with the Holy Trinity boys basketball team.
But the head coach also knows he has some coaches working for him on the floor.
Hellige has been impressed with the leadership of the team heading into the season, especially with four seniors.
“It’s amazing,” Hellige said. “Whether it’s offense, defense, press, press break, these guys are helping the younger guys. ‘Hey, you need to be here. You need to be there. Here’s what we’re trying to do.’ It’s pretty phenomenal. I’ve never experienced that level of leadership on the court. Hopefully that transitions into game scenarios.”
The Crusaders went 8-14 last season (5-11 SEI Superconference South Division), playing plenty of close games — they were 3-4 in games decided by five points or less.
“We play these teams — and everyone is good — and we’re in games that usually come down to one or two possessions,” Hellige said. “So, if you have one or two less turnovers, or miss one or two less layups, those losses are wins. So that’s what we’re trying to stress.”
All four seniors are expected to start, led by twins Vasin and Jason Thurman.
Vasin averaged 9.8 points and 6.7 rebounds last season, while Jason averaged 9 points and 3.2 rebounds.
“Jason’s more of a guard, Vasin is more of a center/power forward,” Hellige said. “But they work so well together.
“Vasin is really going to surprise some people this year. He had a great junior year, but he has worked out super hard all year.”
Chandler Rung averaged 7 points per game last season.
“He’s extremely versatile,” Hellige said. “He’s more of a quiet leader, but very good at everything.
Kadin Medland, a 5-10 senior, should step into the starting lineup.
“He didn’t play a lot last year,” Hellige said. “But he’s a drop-dead shooter. When he’s on, it’s scary.”
Junior Tyler Snaadt moves up from playing junior varsity last season, although Hellige wanted him earlier.
“Believe it or not, he just kind of wanted to play JV,” Hellige said. “Several times during the season, I said, ‘Man, are you ready to play varsity yet?’ He said, ‘Nah, I’m good.’
“He’s quiet, soft-spoken, but absolutely freakishly athletic. He’s a freak of nature. We’re going to put the ball in his hands.”
Freshman Conner Gehling, a 6-foot-3 freshman, could see some varsity minutes.
“He’s going to be good,” Hellige said. “He’s still growing. He’ll certainly see significant JV minutes, but I’m going to work him into the varsity rotation.”
Junior Mikey DiPrima and sophomore Nick Fullenkamp are coming off leg injuries, but should be key contributors. Junior Jack Malinski is, according to Hellige, a “big body” who can help in the frontcourt. Junior Mitch Pothitakis and sophomore Jacob Pothitakis can help in the backcourt. Freshmen Sheldon Kruse and Maddox Rung round out the roster.
“We’re not going to have a nine-man or 10-man rotation,” Hellige said. “But I’m super excited for what I’ve got.
“The kids are smart. They can run anything you throw at them. They can execute, but we’ve got to have rebounding, low turnovers, and finish shots. These kids are fun. They’re so engaging. And I like that.”