SIOUX CITY – Colin Kasperbauer took advantage of his opportunities Friday in a Missouri River Conference basketball game at “The Pit.”

Kasperbauer, a 6-foot-2 senior forward registered his first career 20-point scoring outing as seventh-ranked (3A) Bishop Heelan opened a heavy week of basketball with a 63-50 victory over North.

Kasperbauer, the team’s second leading scorer, reached double figures for the third straight game and the ninth time this season for a Crusader team that will play six games over the next nine days. Friday night the home squad played without senior starter Bryce Reynolds, who was home with the flu.

“My teammates and I played well,” said Kasperbauer. “We knew without Bryce we’d all have to play a little bit better. Fosty (Coach Andy Foster) said that in practice today we would all have to play about five percent better and I feel that’s what we all did tonight.”

Elijah Hazekamp scored 21 points, 17 coming in the second half as Heelan slowly pulled away from a North team that they had beaten by 30 in the team’s first meeting of the season. Hazekamp, who added 11 rebounds in the game, was 9 for 11 from the free throw line as the Crusaders went 21 of 26 as a team in the game.

“They were cheating really hard (defensively) and back doors were open,” said Kasperbauer. “We were getting to the hoop and making free throws.

“I bet a majority of our practice we spend shooting free throws, every time we do a hard drill the next thing we do is shoot free throws.”

Despite being held without a point over five minutes between the first quarter and the second quarter, Heelan managed to take a 26-22 lead at halftime. The Crusaders scored the final six points of the second quarter and held North without a point the final 2:40 of the frame.

“I was happy with our effort, especially down Bryce Reynolds, home sick with the flu,” said Foster. “We had to mix up our rotation when you lose a point guard people have to step up. Defensively you have to dig in there, guys have to step up and have to play defense.

“That was our conversation at halftime, I think we can score but we have to get stops.

Heelan never trailed in the second half in moving to 9-4 overall and 6-2 in what is now a log jam at the top of the MRAC thanks to Sergeant Bluff-Luton’s surprise win over East. Abraham Lincoln downed West in double overtime giving the league three teams with two losses.

The Crusaders, who face top-ranked (2A) Western Christian on Saturday, led by seven after three quarters and after scoring the first five points of the final quarter the lead only got as little as seven (53-46 with 2:55 to play) the rest of the game.

Heelan went 12 of 14 from the foul line in the fourth quarter while North, which entered the game with the third most free throw attempts in Class 4A, was only 6 of 12 in the contest.

De’Vonta Cobbs was one of three double figure scorers for the Stars (4-12, 2-7) with 13 points. Trent Frerichs had 12 points and Kuot Ngut 10.

“I thought our energy was outstanding,” said North coach Shawn Miller. “I thought we got in some foul trouble and we ultimately got beat by 15 at the line in makes which was the difference in a 13-point game.

“We had a good game plan, the kids executed, they (Heelan) executed a little bit better at the end of the first half. We just fell short in the second half.”

North hosts Abraham Lincoln on Saturday before road games on Tuesday at Lewis Central and Thursday at Sergeant Bluff-Luton.

Heelan, meanwhile, faces games Tuesday at fifth-ranked (B) Omaha Skutt, Thursday with West, Friday at Sergeant Bluff-Luton and Saturday at Carroll Kuemper.

“Our schedule is not easy,” said Foster. “You just lace ‘em up and you try and play. We had a really good practice on Wednesday and a really decent practice yesterday (Thursday) and I think it showed tonight.”

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