WEST BURLINGTON — Tony Johnson told his Holy Trinity girls basketball team to “wake up” a few times in the first quarter of Friday’s SEI Superconference Shootout game against Wapello.
It took most of the quarter, but the Crusaders finally got the message.
Mary Kate Bendlage scored 33 to lead Holy Trinity to a 75-45 win at West Burlington High School.
The Crusaders finished the regular season 12-8, and head into the Class 1A regional tournament next week with plenty of offensive momentum.
But Johnson has concerns about his team’s defense and rebounding.
“It was a little sluggish,” Johnson said of the game. “We didn’t rebound as well as we should have. The rebounding and defense, we’ll clean up on Monday. The offense, we’re fine. We put up 75 points. The offense is fine. The defense is where we’re lagging.”
It was the second time the Crusaders played the Arrows in a little more than a week — Holy Trinity won at Wapello 82-39 on January 26 — and the two teams play again on Thursday at Holy Trinity in the first round of the postseason.
And for at least most of the first quarter, it seemed that familiarity was helping Wapello (8-13), which had no problem breaking the Crusaders’ pressure defense. Jacie Hoeg’s 3-pointer with 2:30 left in the first quarter got the Arrows within 17-16.
But Holy Trinity finally listened to their coach’s demand to get out of the slumber. The Crusaders went on a 22-3 run, and were never threatened after that.
The Crusaders are becoming a hard team to defend these days. Bendlage came into the game ranked 10th in the state in scoring at 22.7 points per game, and she got help from Teagan Snaadt and Mary Hellige.
Hellige had six 3-pointers and finished with 18 points, while Snaadt got through first-half foul trouble to finish with 16 points.
“It’s a confidence thing,” Johnson said. “MK has a lot of confidence now the way she’s scoring. Teagan’s been shooting the ball well. Mary had that big 3-pointer (in Tuesday’s win over Central Lee), shot the ball well in practice (on Wednesday) and last night, and kept it going tonight. When you’re making shots, that basket gets a lot bigger, and I think you’re seeing that with us. The more confidence they have, the better they play.”
Quinn Veach led Wapello with 11 points.
Now the Crusaders are off to the postseason against a team they just played.
“It’s part of Southeast Iowa basketball,” Johnson said. “At this time of year, you can’t reinvent the wheel anyway. Everybody is what they are. You can make adjustments on things, and clean stuff up. But there aren’t going to be a lot of changes.”
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