Lady Crusaders find way around Bears’ scheme

Bendlage goes for 30, Mueller has 19 in win over Danville

BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
PCC SPORTS

FORT MADISON – Tony Johnson saw on video what was coming, and he tried to get his Holy Trinity girls basketball team to emulate it in practice preparing for Tuesday’s game against Danville.
Johnson tried to simulate the Bears’ swarming defense by putting more than five girls out on the court, just to try to recreate the undisciplined havoc that was coming.
But it’s hard to recreate something that seemed to have no design to it, and for 20 minutes in the game the Crusaders were caught up in all of the scurrying.
Once they settled down though, they put on a show.
Holy Trinity won, 80-63, scoring 40 points in a nine-minute stretch of the second half as the chaos proved to be too much for the team creating it.
“We got down, got back up,” Johnson said. “Nobody panicked. And won by whatever it was. That’s the biggest takeaway from this game.
“I told the team the No. 1 thing from tonight was you got down, and you showed me a lot, for being as young as you are.”
Danville’s plan of a constant five-in-five-out rotation was exhausting and often confusing to the Crusaders (5-2), who let a 10-point second-quarter lead get away. They trailed 36-35 at halftime and then 46-39 in the third quarter before the Bears (2-4) started breaking down.
“When you’re playing against chaos, sometimes you get chaotic,” Johnson said. “And that’s what happened to us.”
But the Crusaders would settle in as Danville imploded. They went on an 18-1 run, and Natalie Randolph’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer gave them a 60-50 lead at the end of the third quarter.
The points kept adding up in the fourth quarter. And when Mary Kate Bendlage scored inside with five minutes to play, Holy Trinity was on a 33-7 run.
“That kind of offense is really hard to get,” Johnson said. “But we got so many layups by not panicking.”
Bendlage had 21 of her game-high 30 points in the second half. Brooke Mueller had 19 points, and Randolph finished with nine.
“There was no rhythm to this game, no half-court offense,” Johnson said. “We stayed disciplined. I told them during one timeout, ’They want to be chaotic, we want to be in control.’ And when we stayed in control, we made layups.”

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