Helias rolls by Soldan

Helias forward Adam Bax looks to shoot against Soldan forward Courtney Barlow (22) and guard Ronald Scott (3) during Saturday’s action at Rackers Fieldhouse in Jefferson City.

Helias forward Adam Bax looks to shoot against Soldan forward Courtney Barlow (22) and guard Ronald Scott (3) during Saturday’s action at Rackers Fieldhouse in Jefferson City. Photo by Kris Wilson.

It had been a week since the Helias Crusaders last played a basketball game.

“We were a little nervous coming into this game,” Helias coach Josh Buffington said. “With the snow days and when we did practice, we didn’t practice very well.”

But the Crusaders were ready from the opening tip Saturday night. Helias hit its first four 3-pointers to take an eight-point lead after one quarter and cruised to a 74-46 victory against the Soldan Tigers at Rackers Fieldhouse.

“We played some very good basketball tonight, especially in finding the open guy,” Buffington said.

Isiah Sykes opened the scoring for the Crusaders by hitting a pair of 3s to make it 6-0 just 90 seconds into the game. Brock Gerstner added another pair of 3s later in the quarter for Helias, which ended with the Crusaders holding a 16-8 lead.

“It gets the confidence of the team going when you hit some early shots,” Buffington said. “It’s always good to get off to a good start, the kids play better with confidence.”

One downside to the quarter was six Helias turnovers, which could be attributed in part to the quick Soldan defense.

“We knew the speed of the game was going to be the most we’ve seen since the Great 8 Tournament,” Buffington said. “Soldan has tremendous team speed and the more you try to dribble around them or through them, the more you play into their hands. When we did not do that, we were tremendously successful.”

Sykes and Gerstner both hit 3s in the second quarter as Helias opened a 31-18 advantage at the half.

The Crusaders took any potential drama out of the game in the third quarter, outscoring the Tigers 25-11 to stretch their lead to 56-29 heading into the final period. Helias led by as many as 29 points in the quarter.

Moving the ball smartly was the key to the quarter, Buffington said.

“We moved the ball extremely well and were able to open it up by getting some wide-open jumpers and some good trips to the basket,” he said.

The reserves saw a lot of the playing time in the fourth quarter for the Crusaders. One of the standouts off the bench for Helias was Trevor Koelling, who totaled nine points and six rebounds in the period.

“Trevor plays as hard as he can every day, if it’s practice or it’s a game,” Buffington said. “Once we fine-tune some things with Trevor on both ends of the floor, he is going to be a fine player.”

Sykes finished with 16 points to lead the Crusaders. Adam Bax added 14 points, to go along with a game-high nine rebounds.

“Adam has really been playing well lately, coming on strong,” Buffington said. “He has a lot of potential to be a good inside-outside player for us.”

Helias finished with a 51-30 edge in rebounds in the game and was 9-of-17 on 3-pointers.

Christian Simms had a game-high 17 points to lead Soldan (8-11), while Cortlen Brooks added 10. The Tigers finished just 18-of-62 from the field (29 percent), including a 1-of-11 performance on 3s.

Helias (15-4) is back in action Tuesday at Mexico and Friday at Hickman.

In Saturday’s junior varsity game, Helias jumped out to a 23-7 lead at the half on its way to a 46-35 victory against Soldan.

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