BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
WAYLAND — Forget about the second half, Holy Trinity boys basketball coach John Hellige told his team after Tuesday’s 67-40 loss to WACO.
Instead, Hellige said, look at the first half, because it was a sign of just how much the Crusaders have improved.
When these two teams played the season opener, WACO led 32-8 at halftime on the way to a 58-29 win.
In this game, Holy Trinity led 14-13 at the end of the first quarter and only trailed 32-28 at halftime. The Crusaders had a 15-0 run in the first half.
“Just night-and-day difference,” Hellige said. “That’s what I told the kids in the locker room, let’s focus on the positives. Let’s do that instead of focus on a second half that got a little sloppy.”
What Hellige really liked from that half was how the Crusaders (2-10 overall, 2-7 SEI Superconference South Division) fought back from an early 13-2 deficit.
“It could have gotten ugly,” Hellige said. “And that just shows the progress these kids are making. It may not be pretty all the time, but when they play well, it makes you feel good as a coach, how hard the kids are working and trusting the process.”
But whatever momentum the Crusaders had from the first half disappeared in the third quarter. WACO (10-2, 6-2) held Holy Trinity to just eight points in the quarter.
“With a young team, that’s going to happen. It’s just going to happen,” Hellige said. “When we started getting more confidence, getting over that confidence bridge, we’re going to put together three quarters of good basketball. And then, finally, hopefully by February, we’re playing four quarters of good basketball.”
Conner Gehling led Holy Trinity with 23 points, 21 coming in the first half.
“The second half, I think he got a little bit fatigued,” Hellige said. “But he worked his tail off. He really had some great finishes at the offensive end. He’s good.”
Holy Trinity plays host to Cardinal on Friday and at Fort Madison on Saturday.