READY FOR THE REMATCH: Gimmick lets Rebels overtake AGWSR

REINBECK – Gladbrook-Reinbeck had not used a gimmick defense this season prior to Tuesday night’s Class 1A District 8 semifinal matchup with conference rival AGWSR.

But with senior Josh Bagley scoring 16 points in the first three quarters, G-R coach Scott Kiburis thought it was time to change it up.

Down by four heading into the fourth quarter, Kiburis slapped on an effective box and one against the North Iowa Cedar League’s leading scorer and that helped the Rebels rally for a 69-62 win at Gladbrook-Reinbeck High School.

“Bagley is such a good player,” Kiburis said. “We haven’t played a gimmick defense all season. But we needed to change momentum a little bit. Colton Dinsdale is just a freshman but he guarded Bagley and did a great job on him.”

The Rebels’ defense forced someone else from AGWSR to beat them as Bagley only managed two points in the final frame. The Cougars failed to adjust in the early stages of the final quarter and a 10-0 run from G-R turned the four-point deficit into a six-point advantage with 4:46 to play in the game.

“We didn’t adjust that well to their box and one,” AGWSR coach Russ Banzhaf said. “We played hard, but G-R hit some big shots and when they got to the line they made their free throws. That is how it goes sometimes.”

Gladbrook-Reinbeck will now face Iowa Star Conference champion and No. 6 North Tama in the District 8 championship game on Thursday in Grundy Center. The Redhawks beat Colo-NESCO, 53-34, in Traer on Tuesday.

The Rebels beat North Tama in Traer in the district semifinals last year, but the Redhawks blasted G-R by 13 in Reinbeck back on Jan. 26.

“We don’t play in the same conference, but we are pretty big rivals,” Kiburis said. “Our kids wanted to play them again. Hopefully we can make some adjustments from our last game.”

Zach Pierce had 22 points to lead the Rebels against the Cougars on Tuesday. He was 12-of-15 from the line. Jacob Smoldt also buried five 3-pointers and added 19 points in the win.

The Rebels were 26-of-33 from the line in the game. AGWSR (16-8) shot just four times from the stripe in the loss.

“We’ve been going to him and going to him a lot lately,” Kiburis said of Pierce. “He was great tonight and we did a good job of getting him the ball, too.”

Banzhaf said the free throw differential was pretty hard to overcome.

“They took the ball to the basket, but when they shoot 30 free throws and we take four, it is pretty easy to go on a run there in the fourth,” Banzhaf said.

The game was tied at 13 after one following a deep triple from Bagley with 3 seconds on the clock.

G-R (17-6), which has won five of its last seven, scored eight straight to open the second frame, including back-to-back treys by Smoldt, and then a bucket inside by Chase Clark gave the Rebels a 23-16 advantage.

But the Cougars got consecutive treys by Evan Janssen and Bagley to cut the lead to one and then another triple from Bagley tied it at 25. The Cougars then closed the period on a 7-1 run and led 32-26 at the break.

“We played well defensively in the first half,” Banzhaf said. “Holding them to 26 is great. We executed well on offense, too.”

The third quarter was back-and-forth as neither team led by more than five. Another strong finish to the period for the Cougars gave them a four-point lead heading into the final period.

Pierce though went to work in the final quarter and had five of the 10 points during the Rebels’ deciding spurt. Smoldt also buried his fifth trey of the game.

“We let him get away from us there a few times,” Banzhaf said of the sharpshooting Smoldt. “We didn’t want him to make five 3-pointers, that’s for sure.”

The Rebels made 18 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the win, though AGWSR trailed by just two with 1:50 to go after two straight 3-pointers by Derek Schipper.

The Cougars buried 10 triples in the game and Schipper scored 17 points, which is 12 more than his season average.

The Rebels made sure that was as close as their NICL rival would get as they hit 9-of-12 from the charity stripe in the final 1:34.

“Our goal was to get the ball inside and try to get to the line,” Kiburis said. “We knew we would have the advantage down low. They lost their tallest player (Austin Heitland) to an injury and we knew we could get things going in the lane.”

Chase Clark hit some big buckets in the first half for the Rebels and was a third G-R player in double-figures with 10. Camden Kickbush scored all nine of his points in the second half and seven of those were in the deciding fourth quarter.

Bagley finished with 18 and Schipper added 17. Owen Abkes also hit four 3-pointers and scored 16 in the loss.

The Rebels will meet the Redhawks (23-1) at 7 p.m. Thursday in Grundy Center, weather permitting. Kiburis knows what his team is going to have to do to end North Tama’s season for the second straight year.

“They are a veteran team,” he said. “We have to be more fluent on offense than we were in the first meeting and we can’t let Mitchell Boerm score 20. We bring a lot of fans, and they bring a lot of fans. It will be fun.”


AGWSR finishes the season 16-8 and three of those losses came to Gladbrook-Reinbeck. … North Tama beat G-R, 52-39, in Reinbeck earlier this year. … Schipper came into the game averaging just 5.4 points per game. Bagley leads the NICL at 22 points per game. … Pierce and Smoldt scored 15 points more than their combined season average. … North Tama has won 13 straight games and the Redhawks’ lone loss this year was at Jesup on Jan. 5.