BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
FORT MADISON – It was back on January 8 when Holy Trinity’s boys basketball team faced the running clock in the second half of a 37-point loss to New London.
The clock was running in the Crusaders’ favor in Tuesday’s 63-24 win over Van Buren County at Shottenkirk Gym.
“We’ve come a long way,” Holy Trinity coach John Hellige said.
The Crusaders (8-7 overall, 6-5 SEI Superconference South Division) have gone 3-2 since that 69-31 loss to New London, but Hellige appreciates how much his team has grown.
“Really, I come back to our toughness,” he said. “No weight room, no football team here. So we’ve got to find ways to be tougher. It starts with the mental aspect of it. Really, what we’re going to is we’re going to embrace physical play versus running from physical play. And I think you saw that tonight. When we play strong and tough, it leads to confidence and poise, easy offense and tough rebounding and defense.”
Holy Trinity dominated early, leading 20-6 at the end of the first quarter and 30-10 at halftime. The Crusaders got to a 35-point lead late in the third quarter, leading to a running clock the rest of the game.
The Crusaders had balanced scoring, led by Jason Thurman’s 13 points. Kadin Medland had 12 points and Chandler Rung had 11.
Holy Trinity had 11 3-pointers.
“We definitely have a team of shooters, for sure,” Hellige said. “Sometimes it’s hot, sometimes it’s cold. I think we’re kind of warming up here at the right time.
“The shooting is awesome. But I think it goes back to the toughness, being able to handle teams that push and shove, and our aggressiveness helps things tremendously.”
Jackson Manning led Van Buren (0-12, 0-9) with 13 points.Hellige understood the struggles that legendary Van Buren coach Fred Parsons is facing this season.
“I really respect him and I’m amazed at his time of 61 years on the bench,” Hellige said. “He’s a great coach and his young team is going to be tough down the road.”