SIOUX CITY -- The road ahead is probably filled with untold excitement for East High's 7-foot 1-inch Adam Woodbury, headed for the University of Iowa and a college career in the Big Ten Conference.
That doesn't mean Woodbury doesn't still get a thrill out of a big metro high school basketball showdown.
Three nights after fouls plagued him in an 83-71 road loss to South Sioux City's two-time defending Nebraska Class B state champs, Woodbury and the Black Raiders bounced back Tuesday night at arch-rival Bishop Heelan, turning back the Iowa's three-time defending Class 3A champions, 53-46.
"If you're a kid growing up in Sioux City, playing at these two places (South Sioux Mini-Dome and Heelan's infamous "Pit''), it doesn't get much better,'' said Woodbury, who had fouled out just twice in his high school career before Saturday's game.
Connecting on 11 of 15 shots, Woodbury totaled 25 points and 10 rebounds as East, ranked No. 6 in the Class 4A poll by Associated Press, improved to 4-1.
And, although the big guy fouled out for the second game in a row, he picked up three of those personals in the final 5:24 and collected Nos. 4 and 5 in the last 1:25.
"It was a great win after losing at South Sioux,'' said Ras Vanderloo, East's first-year head coach. "It showed that we have the team that we thought we had. Heelan's kids are always going to play hard and they're used to winning. You get a win here, it's earned.''
Alex Imming chipped in 11 points for the Raiders, who never trailed again after an early 3-2 deficit, gaining leads of 13-8, 28-18 and 43-34 at the quarter stops.
Woodbury's first bucket of the second half made it a 30-18 advantage and that would be the largest lead of the game for the winners. After Heelan closed within 39-34 late in the third quarter, it was a single-digit game the rest of the way.
"Like I told our guys before the game, ‘We've got to focus on what we are, not what we're not,' ‘' said Heelan Coach Tom Betz, whose team is now 3-1 and ranked fourth in Class 3A. "We have a good team and I think that showed tonight.''
Junior point guard Shane Graves led balanced scoring for the Crusaders with 12 points while 6-5 junior Kyle Heaton added 10. Heaton and 6-6, 305-pound center Bryce Sweeney, who added eight points, each had eight rebounds as a taller East squad managed just a 30-29 edge on the boards.
"We bring that kind of effort every night and we'll be fine,'' said Betz.
Heelan lost Iowa football recruit Michael Malloy, a starter on its last two state championship teams, to a knee injury that reduced the talented running back's season to two quarters. Meanwhile, all-state guard Wesley Staten, a first-team 3A all-stater as a junior last winter, was already ineligible for the season's first month before dropping out of Heelan several weeks ago.
Still, the Crusaders were within 50-46 after Graves hit a three-pointer with 1:03 to play.
East made three of five free throws after that, getting a pair from Imming, while Heelan's only two subsequent possessions produced a missed one-and-one and a turnover.
"They're a state title-level team in 4A and the shots didn't fall for us,'' said Betz. "We got good effort across the board.''
Both teams still have three more pre-holiday games crammed into the next nine nights.
East plays Friday at Sergeant Bluff-Luton, hosts Storm Lake next Tuesday and visits Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln a week from Thursday.
Heelan travels to Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson on Friday, visits undefeated Le Mars next Tuesday and hosts Sioux Center in a makeup game a week from Thursday.
East won the sophomore prelim 58-49 as Greg Kirwan had 15 points, Chase Kern 14 and Wyatt Mounts 11 for the Raiders, now 4-1. Zach Brazzell tallied 13 and Keaton Slaughter 10 to lead Heelan.
Alex Imming 3-6 4-4 11, Dillon Godfrey 0-0 0-0 0, Adam Woodbury 11-15 3-7 25, Marcel Dunson 3-6 0-1 7, J.C. Fuller 2-10 1-2 6, Taylor De Laughter 1-2 1-2 4, Alec Lewis 0-0 0-0 0, Andrew Munson 0-0 0-0 0, Ben Schwaderer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-39 9-16 53.
Kyle Heaton 3-11 4-6 10, Paul Jacobson 2-9 0-0 6, Bryce Sweeney 3-6 2-6 8, Cameron Farrell 2-5 1-2 5, Shane Graves 4-12 1-2 12, Connor Spears 0-0 0-0 0, Baylor Bestgen 0-1 0-0 0, Keaton Slaughter 2-3 0-0 5. Totals 16-47 8-16 46.
East 13 15 15 10 -- 53
Heelan 8 10 16 12 -- 46
3-point shots -- East 4-9 (Imming 1-3, Fuller 1-3, Dunson 1-2, DeLaughter 1-1), Heelan 6-19 (Graves 3-5, Jacobson 2-9, Slaughter 1-1, Heaton 0-3, Farrell 0-1). Rebounds -- East 30 (Woodbury 10), Heelan 29 (Heaton 8, Sweeney 8). Turnovers -- East 15, Heelan 10. Total fouls -- East 14, Heelan 17. Fouled out -- Woodbury (0:29, 4th).