SIOUX CITY -- After back-to-back battles with two formidable opponents, a little practice time may be just what the doctor ordered for the Black Raiders of East High.
Iowa's No. 2-ranked Class 4A team in last Monday's poll by Associated Press, East will likely slip a little in the next balloting after falling 39-37 to arch-rival Bishop Heelan in a Friday night cliffhanger.
Coach Jeff Vanderloo's team bounced back Saturday night to collect a 58-51 win over visiting Sioux Falls Lincoln, No. 3 in South Dakota's big-school (Class AA) rankings.
However, it was a bizarre affair in which East, now 10-2, shot a whopping 54 free throws to just 13 for the Patriots, who were coming off 66-59 loss Friday night to Huron, just a 5-6 team even after another win Saturday.
"The South Dakota brand of basketball is a little more physical than we're used to,'' suggested East Coach Jeff Vanderloo, a veteran of many battles with the Sioux Falls schools in the days of the Sioux Interstate Conference.
"I didn't say better, it's just more physical,'' added Vanderloo, whose team is idle until a Friday night Missouri River Activities Conference contest at Sergeant Bluff-Luton, the MRAC newcomer.
A few days of practice might give East some extra time to find more ways to capitalize on the extraordinary size at its disposal since 6-11 junior Mading Thok became eligible last Tuesday, joining 7-1 Adam Woodbury and 6-8 Dillon Godfrey, also both juniors.
Also, it should give the heavily recruited Woodbury some time to shake off a nightmarish 4-for-19 night at the free throw line.
"If we are going to get to the places we need to go, it's certainly something we need to overcome,'' said Vanderloo, whose team was 29 of 54 from the charity stripe.
Lincoln, which had lost only to top-ranked Sioux Falls O'Gorman before Friday, fell to 7-3 after shooting just 30 percent (17of 56) in the meeting of former SIC foes.
The Patriots were only 5-for-25 in the first half and still trailed by a scant 23-21 margin after Woodbury (4 of 13) and Thok (2 of 6) were a combined 6 of 19 from the charity stripe.
"Woodie struggled with his free throws last year, too, but he shot them a lot better later in the year and got his percentage up to almost 60 percent,'' said Vanderloo.
Woodbury wound up just over 55 percent from the line as a sophomore (89 of 162) while averaging 17.4 points. His 16 points Saturday after a season-low 12 on Friday left him at 19.8 a game this winter and he's shooting nearly 67 percent from the field (106 of 159).
However, Saturday's frustrations left him 26 of 73 at the foul line, a .356 clip.
Alex Imming matched Woodbury for team scoring honors with 16 points while Quinton Behlers and J.C. Fuller, another junior for the youthful Raiders, each tacked on 10 points.
Fuller did all of his scoring on 12 free throw attempts, hitting eight of 10 as East rode a fourth-quarter rally to gather in the win.
Lincoln, led by 6-6 senior forward Will Hieber's 18 points and 12 rebounds, used a 6-0 spurt to gain a 39-34 lead late in the third period.
East responded, though, with a game-changing 10-0 surge, getting four points each from Behlers and Imming to gain a 44-39 lead with 5:26 to play in the contest. And, the lead reached 52-41 before two three-pointers sparked an 8-1 Lincoln surge that got the Patriots within 53-49 with 58 seconds left.
Four free throws by Fuller helped stave off the guests in the final minute.
"I'm not happy with the outcome or how the game was played, but I saw something I haven't seen the last couple of games,'' said Jeff Halseth, Lincoln's second-year head coach after 18 seasons as an assistant at the school. "We had a little more passion and it was fun to watch.''
Lincoln's sophomores, now 8-2, got 29 points from Adam Jaros and 16 by Nermin Krozalic to win the prelim game 72-60. East, 10-2, was led by Blake Lynch with 20 and Manny Moniz with 12.
Trey Naasz 2-10 0-0 5, Scott Mulder 0-1 0-0 0, Will Hieber 5-12 6-8 18, Trent Wilcoxon 0-1 0-0 0, Ty Jaros 3-15 2-2 8, Creighton Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Dylan Peterson 0-1 0-0 0, Nick Goeman 4-10 0-0 10, Matt Vander Woude 2-4 0-0 5, Alex Hannemann 1-1 2-3 5. Totals 17-56 10-13 51.
Dillon Godfrey 0-0 0-0 0, Alex Imming 5-9 6-9 16, Adam Woodbury 6-8 4-19 16, J.C. Fuller 0-2 10-12 10, Jordan Menard 0-2 0-0 0, Quinton Behlers 1-4 7-8 10, Mading Thok 1-4 2-6 4, Marcel Dunson 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 14-30 29-54 58.
Lincoln 6 15 18 12 -- 51
East 10 13 12 23 -- 58
3-point shots -- Lincoln 7-28 (Goeman 2-6, Hieber 2-8, Vander Woude 1-1, Hannemann 1-1, Naasz 1-4, Wilcoxon 0-1, Peterson 0-1, Smith 0-1, Jaros 0-5), East 1-3 (Behlers 1-2, Imming 0-1). Rebounds -- Lincoln 30 (Hieber 12), East 34 (Woodbury 8). Turnovers -- Lincoln 20, East 24. Total fouls -- Lincoln 35, East 14. Fouled out -- Naasz (1:59, 4th), Wilcoxon (0:16, 4th).