BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
FORT MADISON – There were positives for Holy Trinity’s boys basketball team to take away from Tuesday’s 40-38 loss to Wapello at Shottenkirk Gym.
But it was a game that Crusaders coach John Hellige really wanted to get.
Holy Trinity (2-7) surrendered 15 consecutive points in the first quarter, but fought back to lead in the closing minutes before Wapello (5-6) came up with some key plays.
“We talked in the locker room about how every possession counts in these close games — it could be a missed free throw, a turnover, a missed defensive rebound,” Hellige said. “Any one of those, I could be thinking tonight about what we could have done differently to change this one-possession game to get it to overtime, or maybe win it.”
The Crusaders allowed just 15 second-half points, and rallied to lead 37-36 with 1:28 to play after Conner Gehling hit 1-of-2 free throws. But Wapello’s Maddox Griffin hit a baseline jumper 10 seconds later to put the Indians back in front, then Tade Parsons added two free throws with 26 seconds to play to give Wapello a 40-37 lead.
Holy Trinity missed three shots in the closing minute, but still had a chance to tie the game when Griffin missed the front end of a one-and-bonus with 10 seconds left. Wapello had just four fouls, so the Indians were able to foul three times and take almost eight seconds off the clock. Adam Sobczak went to the free-throw line with 2.8 seconds remaining and hit the first free throw. Sobczak intentionally missed the second free throw, but the Crusaders couldn’t get the rebound or a tip opportunity to tie the game.
“We were trying to get a tip, hopefully for Gehling,” Hellige said. “It just didn’t bounce our way.”
Holy Trinity trailed for double digits for most of the first half, before getting to within 25-16 at halftime. The Crusaders then gave themselves the opportunity they wanted with solid second-half defense.
“It shows we’re doing a lot of good things defensively,” Hellige said. “Overall, I thought we showed a lot of poise in the second half. Tonight we cut down our turnovers. We weren’t crystal clean on offense. But I thought it was a step in the right direction.”
Gehling led Holy Trinity with 13 points. Luke Hellige had eight points. Sobczak had seven.