BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
WINFIELD — The Holy Trinity girls basketball season ended on Thursday night, but not before the Crusaders threw a scare into one of the top teams in Class 1A.
Holy Trinity stayed within striking distance of No. 9 Winfield-Mount Union all night before the Lady Wolves took a 53-42 win in a 1A regional first-round game.
Winfield-Mount Union (17-0) will play Calamus-Wheatland on Tuesday night in the quarterfinals.
Holy Trinity finished with a 5-17 record, but the building blocks to the Crusaders’ future played key roles in the final game.
Freshman Natalie Randolph led the Crusaders with 13 points. Sophomore Brooke Mueller had 12. Freshman Mary Kate Bendlage had eight points.
Four of the five players who started this game will be back next season. The Crusaders lose seniors Bailey Hellweg, Maria Rauenbuehler and Ali Robu.
“I’m so excited about the future,” Johnson said. “I love the seniors this year, I hate to always see seniors go. But you look out on the floor and you’ve got two or three sophomores out there, and three freshmen.”
The Crusaders never let the Lady Wolves get away. They trailed 10-7 at the end of the first quarter and 26-21 at halftime, the last points coming when Hellweg’s desperation 3-pointer as the clock was winding down was ruled good because of goaltending when a W-MU player pulled on the net.
Winfield-Mount Union had a 15-4 run to start the third quarter, but the Crusaders closed the quarter with an 8-2 run.
“The effort was there on both ends of the court,” Johnson said. “We just missed a few rebounds here and there, and that was the difference in the game, in my opinion.
“We were in the game the whole night. But, offensively, it was a struggle all year. We would have spurts where the offense ran great, and there were spurts when we couldn’t get out of our own way.
It wasn’t for a lack of effort.”
Farrah Nelson led Winfield-Mount Union with 14 points. Kyndal Townsley had 12.
The Crusaders won back-to-back games twice this season, but also had losing streaks of eight and seven games.
“There were some games where we took it, some games where we were right in there with some pretty good teams,” Johnson said. “But we’ve just got to find a balance. We’ve got to play the same for a whole game. We would just go on scoring droughts. We’ll go 3-4 minutes without getting a basket. We’ll play great defense, hold them to one shot, and then can’t do anything on the other end.”
The key will be if the Crusaders can work during the summer, something they couldn’t do last summer because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“I told the girls, if we put some work in this summer, we’ll be way better,” Johnson said. “We’ll take a huge leap.
“The young ones really came a long way this year. The underclassmen, we’ve got something. We’ll get there.”