Big second half sparks Rebels to season sweep of AGWSR
REINBECK – A strong start to the second half by Gladbrook-Reinbeck blew open a tight game Friday during NICL West Division boys’ basketball action.
The Rebels scored the final four points of the first half and then rolled off 12 straight to begin the third quarter and that was enough for the hosts during a 57-30 victory over AGWSR.
The victory gives the surprising Rebels a sweep against AGWSR, which came into the season as one of the favorites to win the league title.
“Our defensive intensity changed the complexion of the game in that second half,” Gladbrook-Reinbeck coach Scott Kiburis said. “A lot of the offense we created came off our defense. To sweep AGWSR is great. I am proud of the way our kids played.”
It was the fourth straight win for the Rebels, who sit in second place in the NICL West at 8-1 following the victory. Their only loss this season was to conference-leading West Marshall.
In the first meeting against the Cougars, most of the damage was done by Zach Pierce, who finished with 25 points and eight boards. Friday’s win was done with a more balanced effort as four players finished in double figures and Gladbrook-Reinbeck (8-1, 8-1) buried six treys as well.
“We have had four different guys lead us in scoring the last four games so we are starting to become more balanced,” Kiburis said. “It was nice to get that tonight. We knew AGWSR was a good team and we needed the total team effort.”
While the Rebels found their shooting touch in the third quarter, the Cougars struggled offensively the entire night. AGWSR (8-4, 6-3) scored its final bucket of the first half with 2:12 on the clock and did not score again until the 2:28 mark of the third quarter.
It was a combination of missed shots and turnovers that led to the poor offensive night.
“I am not sure what happened tonight,” AGWSR coach Russ Banzhaf said. “We had good looks. We took good shots. They just didn’t fall for us.”
Josh Bagley, who is averaging better than 20 points per game for the Cougars, had an off night with just six points.
“He’s a great player and he hurt us in the earlier meeting,” Kirburis said. “We tried to make him work for his shots. We caught this team on an off night, but I think our defense had something to do with it, too.”
A low scoring first half saw the Cougars up 9-6 after one quarter. The Rebels battled back in the second half to force ties at 11 and 17 and then Trevor Trunck scored the final four points of the half to give G-R a lead it would not relenquish. Trunck came up big for the Rebels on Friday, finishing with 12 points.
“We did not have Chase Clark tonight because of an injury,” Kiburis said. “I thought Trevor Trunck came in, stepped up and did a nice job for us.”
The run continued for the Rebels in the third quarter. Four different players contributed to the 12-0 run that started the half. G-R ended up outscoring the Cougars 17-5 in the frame and headed to the final period with a commanding lead. And a 19-8 advantage in the fourth led to the easy victory.
“We had way too many turnovers in the second half,” Banzhaf said. “And a lot of those mistakes led to easy buckets on the other end. Give G-R credit. They played well tonight.”
Senior Jacob Smoldt buried two triples and was 4-for-4 from the line as he finished with a team-high 14 points for the Rebels, who look to claim their fifth straight win when they take on Dike-New Hartford in the NICL Showdown tonight.
Sophomore Cameron Kickbush finished with 13 points and Pierce, who also is a sophomore, added 10 points.
The Cougars had won two straight before the loss Friday. No player reached double figures AGWSR, which next plays at South Hardin on Tuesday. Austin Heitland led the way with seven points, while Bagley and Owen Abkes finished with six and five points, respectively.
Heitland left the game late in the third quarter with what appeared to be an ankle injury and did not return. Banzhaf had no further information after the game. … The Rebels were 13-of-18 from the line, while the Cougars buried just 8-of-14. … Pierce came into the game leading three Rebels in double-figures at 16 points per game. … Bagley had 20 points and five assists in the first meeting but was largely ineffective Friday.