Just before Christmas, the Holy Trinity Crusaders handed Cardinal one of their most lopsided losses.
For most of the early going, it looked like that could happen again.
The Comets mounted a furious fourth-quarter comeback and lost 65-63 in SEISC boys basketball action Thursday night in Eldon. The Comets had the ball with just over four seconds to go but couldn’t get off a quality shot.
The first quarter was all Holy Trinity, mainly Mitch Moeller. Moeller personally outscored the Comets 14-13 in the opening eight minutes of action.
Moeller was the third Crusader to score as the visitors ran out to a 6-0 lead. Charlie Rachford’s 3-pointer finally got the Comets on the board. Moeller’s second basket kept the visitors up 10-3 with two minutes gone in the game. A Moeller 3 gave the Crusaders a 13-5 lead, but Cody Carter hit a 3-pointer to pull Cardinal within five.
A 6-0 run by Holy Trinity (14-5, 13-4) ending in two more baskets by Moeller gave the visitors a 19-8 lead.
Moeller’s last score of the opening quarter was a 3, and the lead was at 12. A Carter three-point play was neutralized by a Crusader 3-pointer as the quarter closed.
“Moeller is a good player,” said Cardinal coach Jay Olson. “We just didn’t come out with any defensive intensity.”
The Comets had a 13-12 advantage in the second. Rachford had three early points to start the quarter. Back-to-back baskets by Dakota Showman cut the Crusader lead to 26-20 with more than five minutes remaining in the half. Moeller added six points to have 20 for the half, but Showman added two more baskets to make the halftime score 37-26 Holy Trinity.
The Comets struggled to score in the third and fell behind 50-32 after three. Holy Trinity’s zone continued to bother the Comet shooters.
“They really spread out their zone, and that helps them get to shooters,” said Olson. “I felt like we had a couple of looks that we didn’t pull the trigger on.”
Moeller led the visitors with six points in the third, and his total went to 26.
The fourth found the Comets scoring just one point less than they had in the first three quarters combined. Cardinal exploded for 31 final-quarter points.
Cardinal used the game to honor their seniors. Three of those seniors had a hand in the comeback.
Showman’s steal and pass to Rachford led to a breakaway dunk to start the scoring in the fourth.
“I think that really got our guys fired up, and that led to our big quarter,” added Olson.
Moeller’s 3-pointer temporarily silenced the crowd, but it couldn’t stop the Comet momentum.
Jonathan Pedersen was one of the seniors who had a big quarter. His three-point play on an offensive rebound cut the lead to 53-37.
Cardinal big man, Kaleb Durflinger, took an assist from Pedersen and completed a three-point play to make the score 53-40.
Showman, another one of the Comet seniors, cut the lead to 11. A Pedersen basket was followed by a Showman 3, and the lead was cut to six. Showman’s 3-pointer completed the 13-0 Comet run.
A Moeller basket was sandwiched by a two and a 3 by Blake Hellweg as the visitors went up 60-47. Moeller’s final basket kept the visitors comfortably up 63-49.
Senior Cody Carter hit a 3-pointer to start a 10-0 Cardinal run. Rachford followed with a 3, and then two baskets by Brandon Potts pulled the Comets to within 63-59 with just under a minute to play.
Cardinal used the full court pressure to get some easy baskets in the final eight minutes of play.
The visitors hurt themselves late with three straight trips where they went just one of two from the line and a late miss of the front end of the one-and-one.
Rachford’s two foul shots kept Cardinal down just 65-61 with 22 seconds to play. Rachford then had a big steal, and his pass to Showman cut the lead to 65-63.
Moeller, the game’s high scorer with 33, missed the front end of a one-and-one with seven seconds to play.
Cardinal took a timeout with just over four seconds to play to set up a potential shot to tie or win it. The Comets were only able to get off a hurried, contested 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“We just dug ourselves such a big hole to get out of,” said Olson. “Even though we had to use so much energy fighting back, I still think we had some left. We just couldn’t execute a play at the end.”
The Comets (10-8, 9-7) are back in action Saturday when they host Class 1A top-ranked Danville.
Holy Trinity 65, Cardinal 63
H.T. 25 12 13 15 — 65
Card. 13 13 6 31 — 63
Holy Trinity (65) — Dylan Menke 5, Blake Hellweg 10, Ben Votroubek 5, Mitch Moeller 33, Ryan Koenig 5, Colin Kassmeyer 1, Justin Menke 6. Totals 25-63 10-19 63.
3-point goals — 5-14 (Moeller 3, D. Menke, Hellweeg). Rebounds — 41 (Kassmeyer 9). Assists — 8 (Koenig 4). Steals — 11 (Moeller 3, Kassmeyer 3). Blocks — 3 (J. Menke 2). Total fouls — 11. Turnovers — 13.
Cardinal (63) — Dakota Showman 19, Charlie Rachford 13, Cody Carter 9, Brandon Potts 6, Jonathan Pedersen 7, Kaleb Durflinger 9. Totals 23-60 12-13 63.
3-point goals — 5-21 (Showman, Rachford 2, Carter 2). Rebounds — 36 (Durflinger 11). Assists — 10 (Rachford 5). Steals — 8 (Showman 3). Blocks — 3 (Rachford, Potts, Durflinger). Total fouls — 15. Turnovers — 12.