LE MARS, Iowa -- Shane Graves is kind of small to be a warrior.
Yet, the smallest player on the floor was a hero for the Bishop Heelan Crusaders Tuesday night.
Heelan's Paul Jacobson stripped the ball from Le Mars' Chris Eckstaine in the closing seconds of overtime and fired a pass to Graves, who scored the basket with two seconds left. Fouled on the play by Jake Irwin, the 5-foot-10 Graves hit a free throw to complete a three-point play and gave the fifth-ranked Crusaders a 59-56 win over the No. 7 and previously undefeated Bulldogs in front of a rowdy crowd at Carey Gym.
Graves, who entered the game with an 18.8 scoring average, tallied 27 points for Heelan (5-1), matching the total poured in by Le Mars' 6-7 Briar Cliff University recruit, Austin Homan.
"We knew we had to pressure their guards," said Graves. "P.J. deflected the pass and that gave me the shot. P.J.'s a senior leader for us and that's what we look for. He is a leader and he is clutch. Tonight, my teammates just put me in the best possible position to score."
Graves scored five of the Crusaders' seven overtime points. Cameron Farrell added 11 points for Coach Tom Betz's club, which rallied from a 37-32 third-quarter deficit to take a 46-44 lead headed into the fourth quarter.
"Shane Graves is a heck of a player," said Le Mars Coach Dave Irwin. "He makes everyone on his team better."
"This was quite a game, man," said Betz. "We had people stepping up big tonight. Cameron Farrell made some big baskets in the third quarter. Shane was Shane. We just had a lot of people stepping up for us tonight. Keaton Slaughter made some big plays down the stretch.
"What a game for Shane. I think he only got 30 seconds of rest tonight. He's a special, special player, but again, we had a lot of people stepping up."
Farrell, for instance, made two three-point baskets in the third quarter as Heelan battled back from a 31-27 halftime deficit. Late in the third, Graves got a steal that led to a Cody Potts basket that gave the Crusaders a 46-44 lead.
Homan had 17 points in the first half for Le Mars (6-1), but was 0-for-7 from the field in the third quarter for a team that also got 12 points and five rebounds from Jordan Eisma.
"We did a lot of good things, but I thought the game was lost for us in the first part of the second half," said Irwin. "We didn't execute well, we didn't finish shots, we weren't patient."
Heelan wasn't always patient down the stretch. Following a floater from Farrell that gave the three-time defending 3A state champions a 50-46 lead late in the fourth quarter, the Crusaders made three consecutive turnovers. Homan threw an assist to Eisma to tie the game 50-50.
Graves' basket broke the tie, but Le Mars took 30 seconds off the clock to set up Homan's inside basket with two-tenths of a second left to force overtime.
Le Mars took a 56-54 lead on Eisma's basket with 2:15 left in overtime, but that was the last basket for the hosts, who saw Slaughter tie the game 35 seconds later.
"What a game and what an environment to play this game in," said Betz. "Last year, the guard court was a weakness for Le Mars, but they stepped up tonight. Then, they have a player like Homan. Take Adam Woodbury (of Sioux City East) out of the mix and he's one heck of a post and one heck of a tough matchup."
Heelan's junior varsity improved to 5-1 with a 46-43 win. Zach Brazzell and Trenton Solsma each scored 10 points for the Crusaders while Caleb Cline and Tyler Borchers each tallied nine points for the Bulldogs.
Shane Graves 10-21 7-8 27, Cameron Ferrell 4-8 0-0 11, Paul Jacobson 1-4 2-2 5, Kyle Heaton 2-7 1-1 6, Bryce Sweeney 2-2 0-0 4, Connor Spears 0-0 0-0 0, Baylor Bestgen 0-0 0-0 0, Keaton Slaughter 2-3 0-0 4, Cody Potts 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 22-46 10-11 58.
LE MARS (56)
Jake Irwin 2-6 0-0 6, Jordan Eisma 5-15 1-2 12, Chris Eckstaine 1-3 1-2 3, Austin Homan 12-23 5-5 27, Gabe Rahn 0-0 0-0 0, Brennan Buss 0-0 0-0 0, Kyle Dolph 1-1 0-0 2, Nate Oetken 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-52 7-9 56.
Heelan 15 12 19 6 7 -- 59
Le Mars 12 19 13 8 4 -- 56
Three-point goals - Heelan 5-10 (Farrell 3-5, Heaton 1-1, Jacobson 1-3, Graves 0-1), Le Mars 5-12 (Collins 2-3, Irwin 2-5, Eisma 1-4). Rebounds - Heelan 25 (Heaton 7), Le Mars 26 (Homan 10). Total fouls - Heelan 12, Le Mars 10. Turnovers - Heelan 20, Le Mars 16. Officials - Brandon Slaughter, Mark Campbell, Rich Hinkhouse