CEDAR RAPIDS — Ras Vanderloo is going to stick up for Western Iowa. Every day of the week and twice on Sundays.
The Sioux City East coach knows what a lot of folks over here on the eastern side of the state think about big-school basketball along the Missouri River. It’s inferior, the schedules aren’t as tough, etc., etc.
He understands that. But he disagrees.
“The only thing I’m disappointed about is not being able to show Eastern Iowa people that we’re not a bunch of hicks from Western Iowa,” Vanderloo said, after his Class 4A fourth-ranked team got past Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 55-53, Saturday night as part of the Wells Fargo Advisors Shootout at the U.S. Cellular Center. “We didn’t play our best game here, but that was because of Kennedy. I think people are probably saying ‘That team is the best in Western Iowa?’ I get it. But we’re not dead, yet, either.”
East (12-1) broke free from a 45-45 tie with four minutes left by drawing fouls, getting to the line and making five unanswered free throws. Kennedy (6-7) could never recover.
The Black Raiders traveled to town Friday, stopped in West Des Moines to practice at Dowling High School, then made it to Kennedy to scout the Cougars’ game Friday night against Cedar Falls. They have an outstanding senior forward in Van Rees (who scored a game-high 19 points), a good-shooting guard in Aidan Vanderloo (the coach’s nephew) and a good team.
East placed third at the state tournament last season.
“People don’t understand that there’s a different style of basketball here in Eastern Iowa,” Coach Vanderloo said. “We play a more fast-paced game in all of Western Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska. It’s just different styles. Here, it’s grind it out, hard nosed, defensive basketball. I love it.
“They guard, switch everything. It kind of got us out of sync. Credit to them. The second half, we were better. Then we were more aggressive with the ball and got to the line. Went through the high post. That’s more our style.”
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Derrick Diggins scored 12 points to lead Kennedy, with freshman Caleb Schlaak making a significant impression with an eight-point, six-rebound night off the bench. It was just his third varsity game.
“We made a few youthful mistakes,” said Cougars Coach Jon McKowen. “You can’t use that excuse forever, but you put them at the line four out of five or five out of six possessions there, whatever it was. I felt like we were in control, then we didn’t run any offense. Defensively, in the half court, we were really good. Then we just made some mental mistakes. We got tired and started leaning on people a little bit and got some fouls.”
McKowen was asked how he thought East would fit in the Mississippi Valley Conference.
“Like the rest of us,” he said. “They’d win some, they’d lose some. They’d fit right in. They wouldn’t be a no-loss team in the conference, or a one-loss team. But they’d be at the level of the rest of us.”
AT U.S. CELLULAR CENTER
SIOUX CITY EAST (55): Van Rees 6-9 6-7 19, Sam Hildahl 0-0 2-2 2, Jack Peterson 2-8 5-6 9, Aidan Vanderloo 4-10 2-4 12, Cole Taylor 2-6 0-0 5, Steve Siebersma 0-0 0-0 0, Javonte Keck 2-4 1-2 5, Sayvion Armstrong 1-2 1-1 3, Jaleque Dunson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-40 17-22 55.
CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY (53): Jack Wetzel 2-9 0-0 5, Ethan Sailer 1-2 0-0 2, Derrick Diggins 6-11 0-0 12, Grant Griffin 3-9 0-2 6, Jackson Foley 2-8 3-4 8, Zach Drahos 1-2 0-0 3, Ben Koester 0-0 0-0 0, Trey Sheets 3-5 0-0 9, Cole Werling 0-0 0-0 0, Caleb Schlaak 3-6 0-0 8. Totals 21-52 3-6 53.
Halftime — C.R. Kennedy 24, Sioux City East 23. 3-point goals — Sioux City East 4-16 (Rees 1-1, Peterson 0-3, Vanderloo 2-6, Taylor 1-5, Dunson 0-1), C.R. Kennedy 8-27 (Wetzel 1-5, Diggins 0-2, Griffin 0-5, Foley 1-5, Drahos 1-1, Sheets 3-5, Schlaak 2-4). Rebounds — Sioux City East 30 (Rees, Keck 6), C.R. Kennedy 29 (Schlaak 6). Total fouls — Sioux City East 12, C.R. Kennedy 18. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Sioux City East 13, C.R. Kennedy 9.
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