SIOUX CITY | Yes, Bishop Heelan was without its best player, but that shouldn’t knock any luster off the fact that West got a huge monkey off its back Thursday night.
The Wolverines snapped a 30-game losing skid against Heelan, dating back to January of 2003, with a dominating 68-44 victory at "The Pit."
After coming close in an overtime loss to the Crusaders on Dec. 19 at West, the Wolverines left little doubt this time around, taking command in the second quarter and never looking back.
It was West’s first win over Heelan since Jan. 18, 2003.
Heelan, however, was playing without all-stater Elijah Hazekamp, who was home with the flu. Hazekamp is averaging 21.7 points and 12.9 rebounds per game.
His absence definitely hindered the Crusaders, but West put together a solid all-around performance from start to finish.
“I give the utmost respect for Bishop Heelan for what they have done, they have great coaches and they’re a great team,” West Coach CoCo Cofield said. “But we played with high energy today. We made shots, played good enough defense and came out victorious.
“I knew in practice yesterday, the energy level was very high. They were very excited about this game. They like playing in ‘The Pit’ and they were ready.”
West made 30 of 55 shots (54.5 percent) and had its running game in high gear. As usual, the Wolverines scored a lot of points in transition, but also held a huge 34-16 rebound advantage and permitted no Heelan players to reach double figures.
Cliff McCray scored 16 points to pace West (9-7, 6-5), while DeSean Foy added 15 points. They combined to shoot 15 of 23 from the floor and grab 13 rebounds.
Kory Woodruff, who recently cast his lot with the Briar Cliff University football program, contributed nine points and six boards, while Robert Mosey also scored nine points. Omar Maldonado came off the bench to make all three of his 3-point attempts and tally nine points.
“We know if we come out with a lot of energy we win the game,” McCray said. “It feels really good. Our energy and defense is what won us the game.”
West emerged with a 22-17 lead after a tight first quarter, then opened up a little distance in the second quarter behind Foy, who had 11 of his points in that stanza.
It was 40-29 at halftime and by the first two minutes of the third quarter the lead grew to 17 points. West outscored the Crusaders 17-6 in the third quarter, taking a 57-35 cushion. Heelan was the first to empty its bench early in the fourth quarter and West followed suit shortly thereafter.
Colin Kasperbauer, Bryce Reynolds and Tommy Schiltz scored eight points each for Heelan (9-7, 6-3), which tumbled to its sixth loss in seven games.
“I didn’t know Hazekamp wasn’t playing until warmups and I give a lot of respect to him, he’s a great player,” Cofield said. “When you lose that type of player it makes a difference because he brings so much to the table for them.
“But it’s part of the game and I respect what we did tonight. We have a lot more games and we have a tough stretch coming up. But if you play hard and play with energy everything else will fall into place.”