CEDAR FALLS — Several faces are new, but the results continue to be the same for the Gladbrook-Reinbeck boys’ basketball team.
Joe Smoldt scored 33 points and the Rebels withstood a great fight from a short-handed Wapsie Valley team, securing a third-straight state trip with a 68-62 win in Class 1A substate action Saturday.
Down three with just over three minutes to play, the Warriors looked to be in trouble when leading scorer Paul Rundquist fouled out.
Undeterred, they were able to stage a comeback, even taking a 54-53 lead on a Jake Kuhlmann layup with under a minute to play.
After Gladbrook-Reinbeck tied the game with a free throw, both teams had a chance to win in regulation but were unsuccessful. Jake Lien had a jumper rim off for the Warriors, and Smoldt had a halfcourt shot roll in and out, sending the game to overtime.
After the teams traded field goals, the Rebels, who hit just two of their final seven free throws in the fourth quarter, took control at the line, where they scored six straight points.
After Lien hit a three cut the deficit in half, Caden Kickbush hit 1 of 2 at the line to make it a 64-60 lead.
And following a Warrior miss, the Rebels put the game away for good, as Kickbush was able to sneak behind the defense and break away for a dagger layup at the other end.
“It feels like you’re on top of the world knowing you’re going back to Des Moines,” said Rebel forward Tyler Pierce, who had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
“This one might be a little sweeter knowing we don’t have the experience like we’ve had in other years,” added Smoldt. “That just speaks volumes about the character of this team.”
Though pleased with how his team battled, Warrior Coach Marty McKowen said a major free throw discrepancy ultimately did his team in.
Wapsie Valley committed 25 fouls, while Gladbrook Reinbeck had just 10. As a result, the Rebels shot 24 of 34 from the line, while the Warriors were just 3 of 6.
“We had to fight through a lot of adversity, and it was self-inflicted,” McKowen said. “It’s not like people were making up fouls on us. But it’s a credit to our kids the way they fought.”
Having already been through multiple state experiences, including winning a 1A title in 2015, Rebel Coach Scott Kiburis wasn’t ready to give a prediction of how his team would fare, saying he just wanted to enjoy the experience Saturday and see how things play out in time.
“There’s so many good team in 1A,” he said. “It’s kind of one of those things where you just need to get the right matchup and play the right team. Whoever’s playing hot will get to the final game.”
Glad.-Rein. 68, W. Valley 62, OT
GLADBROOK-REINBECK (24-2) — Walker Thede 2 5-7 9, Caden Kickbush 3 2-4 9, Joe Smoldt 7 17-21 33, Matt Roeding 1 0-0 2, Tyler Pierce 5 1-3 11, Thomas Mussig 0 0-0 0, Mason Skovgard 2 0-0 4. Totals 20 24-34 68.
WAPSIE VALLEY (18-8) —Kirk Drew 4 0-0 9, Jaden Kuethe 4 1-1 12, Paul Rudquist 5 0-0 12, Jake Lien 4 2-2 11, Carson Kerns 2 0-0 6, Jake Kuhlmann 2 0-1 4, Cameron O’Donnell 2 0-0 6, Alec Marticoff 1 0-2 2. Totasl 24 3-6 62.
Glad.-Rein. 21 12 12 10 13 — 68
Wapsie Valley 19 10 13 13 7 — 62
3-point goals—Gladbrook-Reinbeck 4 (Smoldt 2, Kickbush 1, Skovgard 1), Wapsie Valley 11 (Kuethe 3, Rundquist 2, O’Donnell 2, Kerns 2, Drew 1, Lien 1). Total fouls—Gladbrook-Reinbeck 10, Wapsie Valley 25. Fouled out—Drew, Rudquist.