Crusaders strong at finish in home-opener

HTC gets first win over Danville in five years

FORT MADISON - Holy Trinity’s boys basketball team held just a one-point halftime lead over Danville in Tuesday’s SEI Superconference South Division opener at Shottenkirk Gym.
The Crusaders, though, looked a little tight, and that was brought up in the locker room.
The result was a third-quarter surge that put Holy Trinity in command, and the Crusaders then had to withstand a late Danville run for a 50-43 win.
Holy Trinity (2-0 overall, 1-0 division) opened the second half with a 17-3 run for a 39-24 lead, the Crusaders’ largest of the night.
“We just kind of refocused at halftime,” said Holy Trinity coach John Hellige. “We were trying to get really fine with our sets. Then, in the locker room, we had some senior leadership there — Maddox Rung spoke up and said let’s get in our sets, but then just improvise off that. Don’t be so robotic, just play basketball.
“And then we went out there and that third quarter was incredible.”
“We weren’t hitting our shots in the second quarter,” said junior Luke Hellige, who scored the first eight points of the third-quarter run and finished with 20. “We really came out strong and hit the shots that we hadn’t hit, and I thought that was the difference.”
The Bears (0-1, 0-1) had their own run coming. They outscored the Crusaders 14-4 to open the fourth quarter to get within 44-40, and were within 47-43 with 25 seconds left before Luke Hellige hit two free throws and Adam Sobczak one to end it.
“That eighth quarter in two days really wore us down,” John Hellige said. “They were in a 1-3-1 (defense) and that affected us. We struggled a bit with that, but we were able to grind the game out and get the win.”
It was the second consecutive night the Crusaders finished a win — they closed Monday’s 59-50 win over WACO by scoring the last six points.
“We can finish games now,” Luke Hellige said. “We couldn’t finish games last year — we would always come within a couple of points and then couldn’t finish. We’re doing that this year.”
Conner Gehling added 12 points and Layne Rung had nine for the Crusaders.
Titus Svoboda had 14 points to lead Danville. He had eight at halftime, but Holy Trinity held him scoreless in the third quarter.
“We really had to stop him in the second half,” Luke Hellige said.
The Crusaders snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Bears, dating back to 2018.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve beaten them, so it was good to get this one,” Luke Hellige said.
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