Clutch Cam: Ranked Rebels survive scare
PARKERSBURG Camden Kickbush had rehearsed the scenario in his head.
The time, the play, the situation.
The only thing left to do was to make the shot.
With 6.4 seconds left when Sully Hofmeister’s one-and-one attempt drew iron, Kickbush took an outlet pass from Chase Clark and raced up the floor, maneuvering around a pair of Cougars before drilling a buzzer-beating 3 from well beyond the arc.
Kickbush finished with a game-high 20 points and eight rebounds as the sixth-ranked Rebels survived a 64-63 overtime thriller in the Class 1A District 4 Championship Thursday.
“Just playing the game for awhile now, I just know in my head, I just run it through,” Kickbush said of his clock-awareness on the final play.
“I knew Chase (Clark) was going to get (the rebound) at the five-second mark and I had five seconds to get it down and take a shot.”
Kickbush, who had converted a similar shot on the same play in practice the day before, believed his game-winner would go in once it left his hands. He just couldn’t say the same afterward.
“I don’t know, after the shot I just couldn’t believe it.”
Nor could AGWSR, which had rallied from a six-point deficit in the final 50 seconds of regulation to force the extra session with Owen Abkes’ steal and layup knotting the score at 57 with 12 ticks left.
After Joe Smoldt split a pair from the line to increase G-R’s lead to 57-52 with 25 seconds to go, Abkes buried a 3 from the corner 6 seconds later. The Cougars trapped Luke Holman in the corner on the ensuing inbounds and Abkes roped in the ball to lay in the tying basket before Austin Heitland blocked Clark’s last attempt at the horn.
Zach Pierce, who scored 15 points despite battling foul trouble, reclaimed the lead for the Rebels (22-2) with the first basket of overtime. Kickbush answered an Abkes jumper with a circus shot that was knocked loose from his hand as he drove toward the basket but somehow bounced off the glass and through the net with 1:33 to play.
Back-to-back buckets inside from Austin Heitland and Derek Schipper put AGWSR (16-9) on top 63-61 with 30 seconds left and Schipper grabbed the rebound after two Rebel misses before G-R put Hofmeister on the line to set up the frantic final play.
Rebels coach Scott Kiburis used one final timeout to set his squad up for the same play they had practiced Wednesday. Clark and Kickbush took care of the rest.
“We ran it in practice the other day, (Camden) knocked it down (in practice) and he knocked it down right there. He came up big, that was awesome,” Kiburis said.
“(AGWSR) just knows what we have. They do a good job defending Zach on the inside and they’ve got great offensive rebounders … They made some tremendous plays to get back in the game and then take the lead.”
Chase Clark finished with six points and 10 rebounds for G-R, while Cameron Clark added 11 points off the bench. Smoldt returned from a right-ankle injury Tuesday to chip in nine points and five assists.
The Rebels ride a 14-game win streak into the Substate 2 final where they’ll face Belmond-Klemme (21-3) Saturday at 7 p.m. in Hampton-Dumont for the right to go to state. The Broncos defeated Lake Mills 79-64 in Garner Thursday.
Schipper paced the Cougars early with 12 of his team-best 16 points in the first half, while Abkes scored 10 of his 15 after the third quarter. Heitland and Evan Janssen scored 13 apiece as the Cougars gave G-R a stiff test for the third time this season, but came up short once again.
“We knew we had to get off to a good start shooting the ball and we did that,” AGWSR coach Russ Banzhaf said.
“We got the ball down inside where we needed to get it at times and we hit some big shots.”
Schipper scored four straight to give AGWSR its largest lead at 11-5 midway through the opening frame before the Rebels rallied with a 10-2 surge. Luke Holman capped the run with a 3 to give G-R a 15-13 advantage as it never trailed through the rest of regulation.
The Rebels twice led by six in the second quarter but consecutive treys from Hofmeister trimmed the Cougar deficit to 27-25 at the break. The NICL West champs stretched their cushion to seven three times in the third but AGWSR refused to go away. Smoldt converted a 3-point play and Chase Clark added a steal-and-layup before the buzzer to push the margin to 43-36 entering the fourth.
Janssen scored twice inside and Heitland added another hoop on a 6-0 run to even the score at 46 with 2:20 left. Kickbush made two at the line to give G-R a 56-50 lead with just over a minute remaining before the Cougars rallied down the stretch.
“I told the kids after the game, ‘It’s not any one thing’,” Banzhaf said of the loss. “Sure it would have been nice to make a couple free throws and then that’s not an issue, but there were other times we hit shots Our kids have nothing to hang their heads about.”
Kiburis and his squad will never forget Thursday’s game though they need to put it in the rearview mirror quickly.
“We reached the substate a couple years ago we need to get past that game,” Kiburis said.
“We need to let this one go, which will be very hard they’ll remember that one forever, but we want to show up and play great on Saturday.”
G-R swept the season series against AGWSR winning 48-42 in Ackley and 61-55 in Reinbeck. Belmond-Klemme received seven votes in the last AP poll and has won 14 in a row. The Broncos are led by Court Christianson (17 ppg) and Elijah Kenseth (14.4 ppg).