BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
FORT MADISON – The message all week, John Hellige said, was not to be timid.
The Holy Trinity boys basketball coach didn’t like the tentativeness in his team in Tuesday’s loss at Danville.
So, he said as the Crusaders prepared for Friday’s home game against Central Lee, his team had to learn how to finish.
Which is what the Crusaders did in the 72-66 overtime win.
Holy Trinity (4-2) survived a late four-point play by Central Lee’s Kade Myhre with 6.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter to force overtime, then Jason and Vasin Thurman scored all 11 of the Crusaders’ points in overtime.
The Crusaders’ shyness on offense cost them in Tuesday’s 53-47 loss at Danville, so Hellige had them working on being in more of an attack mode for this game.
Which they were, bouncing back from a nine-point third-quarter deficit.
Still, Holy Trinity needed some good fortune.
The Crusaders were up 60-57 when Myhre hit a 3-pointer from the top of the arc as he was fouled. He converted the free throws, and the Hawks (1-6) had the lead.
But Holy Trinity would have time for one more attack, and it came from Chandler Rung.
Rung charged toward the basket as time was ticking away, and was tripped for a foul. He made the first free throw to tie the game, then missed the second.
“Yeah, he really stepped up,” Hellige said of Rung, who had 18 points. “I’ve been challenging him, pushing him a little bit, to get creative, to get more shots up. He’s smart. He knows when to attack, when to pull it out. I think Chandler had kind of a coming-out party tonight.”
The Thurmans then took over. Jason had six points and Vasin had five as the Crusaders pulled away in overtime.
“Defensively, we played awful,” Central Lee coach Evan Swanson said. “There’s no sugarcoating it. We’ve held teams to lower (points), and we let this team score at ease. We let them get layups, second-chance points.
“We didn’t communicate. We didn’t do what we’re capable of doing, and there’s no excuses to be made about it. It’s something we have to fix. It’s up to us as a staff, it’s up to the players, to figure out what keeps holding us back. We’ve got to find ways to win.”
Central Lee seemed to be doing that with its third-quarter start before the Crusaders rallied.
“I love my players,” Swanson said. “But we have moments where we think we get to a good enough spot. I’m not going sugarcoat it now, because 1-6 right now doesn’t need to be sugarcoated. It’s bad.”
Vasin Thurman finished with 26 points, while Jason had 21.
Jaxon Betker led Central Lee with 13 points.
“I like where we’re at right now — 4-2 is pretty good,” Hellige said. “We felt like we should be at 5-1, but this is a good start for us.”