BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
FORT MADISON – Halftimes in high school basketball are 10 minutes long.
Holy Trinity’s girls basketball team didn’t use much of theirs.
The message in the locker room was quick, and to the point.
The Crusaders rallied in the second half of Friday’s game against New London, taking a 49-43 win.
Holy Trinity (4-8 overall, 3-6 SEI Superconference South Division) scored just three second-quarter points and trailed 25-16 at halftime.
There was a different energy to the Crusaders in the second half.
“Motivational speech at halftime,” coach Tony Johnson said, smiling.
It showed. Holy Trinity outscored the Tigers (2-10, 1-8) 33-18 in the half, 17-8 in the fourth quarter.
“It was a good comeback,” Johnson said. “We kind of dug ourselves a hole going into halftime. It was just motivating them, more than anything.
“Ninety percent of this is mental. You can X and O them to death. But you just have tell them to believe in themselves and know what they can do, and it usually turns out for the best.”
Holy Trinity held the Tigers to just one point over the final 2:59.
Kassi Randolph’s two free throws with 1:17 to play put the Crusaders up for good, 44-42. New London seemed to have tied the game when Marah Hartrick made two free throws, but the second one was waved off because of a lane violation, and the Tigers wouldn’t score again.
Randolph led Holy Trinity with 13 points. Bailey Hellweg had 10 points.
Eight Crusaders scored in the game.
“I thought the offense looked better,” Johnson said. “It’s a little more in sync than it was before Christmas. Defensively, we’re still having lapses. But when you’re playing young kids like we are, it’s going to happen.”
Hartrick led New London with 21 points, but had just seven in the second half.
“We worked on it in practice last night and we talked about it before the game,” Johnson said of how the Crusaders planned to defend Hartrick, the Tigers’ leading scorer at 15.9 points per game. “We woke up and figured out. We’ve struggled this year against teams that have that major scorer, and we let them score on us. We’re trying to clean that up. We did a better job of identifying her.”
The Crusaders won back-to-back games for the week to snap an eight-game losing streak before Christmas break.
“We had a rough end there before Christmas,” Johnson said. “It’s always good to get a win after Christmas, and then this one. And we’ve got a lot of home games coming up.
“I know it sounds funny to say 12 games in, but we’re still trying to find the mix. Some groups work well together, others don’t. When one girl has an off night, someone else steps up for them. And that’s good to see.”