SIOUX CITY | Sometimes – well, actually most of the time – Elijah Hazekamp makes basketball look easy.
Like on Friday when the 6-foot-6 senior tallied 33 points and 18 rebounds, leading Bishop Heelan to an 80-50 victory at North High.
“He’s a fighter, he’s a gym rat and has ways to just get his hands on the ball,” Heelan Coach Andy Foster said. “When that shot goes up, he doesn’t turn and look, he turns and runs. We’re blessed to have him and tonight I think he got a little tougher. Tonight everything was earned and I told him from this moment on you have to do it because you just proved to me you can.”
Hazekamp had a quiet first quarter and the host Stars forged a 12-11 lead. But he scored 28 points in the final three stanzas, spending a lot of time at the free throw line.
The Crusaders (2-0) went on a 15-0 run in what turned into a lengthy second quarter, turning a 14-11 deficit into a 26-14 lead. Heelan forced 10 second-quarter turnovers, turning most of the mistakes into either buckets or free throws, and broke for halftime with a 38-25 cushion.
“We started off slow, we didn’t move the ball,” Hazekamp said. “But in the second quarter we moved the ball well and I think we had around 25 points in both the second and fourth quarters and that was huge.
“We’re usually a good free throw shooting team and tonight we put them in. This was a big step up from the first game, our defense still needs to improve but we’re headed in the right direction.”
Hazekamp has verbally committed to the University of North Dakota.
“I still plan to sign there, but who knows?” he said.
Things got a bit chippy in the third quarter as North’s Trent Frerichs was called for a technical foul after a confrontation with Hazekamp. Order was quickly restored, however, and Hazekamp made three free throws to push the lead to 44-28.
North cut it to 11 with just over three minutes left in the third quarter, but two 3-pointers in the final minute made it 54-39 at the break.
“We had to change up our defense a little bit to try and get things going offensively and it worked,” Foster said. “We were able to come into halftime with somewhat of a lead and then it was just a matter of hold on loosely.
“I was pleased with our effort. We can’t start the way we did and expect to be successful throughout the course of the season. We’ve got some kids who can step to the free throw line and make them and tonight was one of those nights we got them to fall.”
Hazekamp was 12-for-15 from the line while Jackson Boever and Colin Kasperbauer – who scored 10 points each – were 4-for-4. The Crusaders cashed in on 23 of 32 gifters.
North (0-5) had four players reach double figures, led by Austin Wilshire with 14 points off the bench. Frerichs added 11 points, while Nick Opsahl and Devonta Cobbs contributed 10 points apiece.
“We committed too many turnovers and gave them too many second-chance points,” North Coach Shawn Miller said. “They’re so long, they got their hands on a lot of things and we got into some foul trouble and they’re not ranked as high as they are for no reason. We competed with great intensity, but just didn’t have smart execution.”
North begins a stretch of five consecutive road games at Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln Tuesday. East, meanwhile, entertains arch-rival East.