Subscribe for 33¢ / day

DES MOINES—Sooner or later, every champion must step aside.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck experienced that transition Thursday afternoon. At the same time, the Rebels’ head coach suggested his team may ready to take another run at Wells Fargo Arena in 12 months.

That’s later. In the 2016 Class 1A state tournament semifinals, South O’Brien denied G-R the chance to play for its second consecutive championship with a 65-56 victory over the Rebels.

Ironically, the Wolverines (24-3) are now in the same position the Rebels held after two rounds last season. They will go for their first state title as South O’Brien High School Friday at 6:05 p.m. against Council Bluffs St. Albert, which knocked off West Hancock in their semifinal matchup.

Two of the towns that make up that relatively new school district—Paullina and Calumet—combined for six championships.

A dozen months ago, Gladbrook-Reinbeck completed its run to the 1A crown and an undefeated season. The Rebels had to settle for a Friday consolation game this time, so the end of the championship road brought mixed emotions for the players.

“It’s fun coming down here and fun playing in this atmosphere,” said Matt Roeding. “It’s awesome with all our fans out there. It’s great—just a real good time.”

Said Tyler Pierce, “It’s really fun to come down here and hang out with the boys in the hotel and get a nice breakfast once in a while. But ... I don’t know—it’s kind of a little disappointing. It’s like what Matt said, because fans are really great. They’re always here, always in the blue—the deep blue sea.”

Roeding and Pierce are juniors. So is star guard Joe Smoldt, who helped the Rebels win the 2015 1A title. To G-R head coach Scott Kiburis, that’s a good reason for optimism looking ahead to 2016-17.

“That bodes well, I think,” said Kiburis. “We have another opportunity in the NICL West. We have some good teams there. And I wouldn’t put it past them to be back here again.”

Thursday, the defending champions took a back seat to a South O’Brien team that played an aggressive 2-3 zone defense, held a big first-half edge on the boards and hit enough clutch shots to protect a lead that peaked at 10 in the third quarter.

The main target of the Wolverine zone was Smoldt, who scored 35 in G-R’s Monday win over Jesup. He put 33 on the board Thursday, but the junior guard didn’t get his first field goal of the last half until 7 minutes and 55 seconds had been played.

All of that led Kiley Yates to give a postgame evaluation of his defense that was half-facetious and half-serious.

“We tilted our entire zone towards (Smoldt),” said South O’Brien head coach Kiley Yates. “Everyone was responsible for defending him. No one was to leave him. He was the compete focus of our defense, and we ‘held’ him to 33, which we’re pretty proud of. He got 35 the first night.

“He’s an excellent player and there’s obviously a bright future for him. But I thought we did an excellent job of challenging the other kids.”

In the paint, the Wolverines met every challenge, especially while building a 33-28 halftime lead. South O’Brien held a 20-10 points in the paint edge after 16 minutes. In second-chance points, the margin stood at 6-0.

G-R improved in the last two quarters, but the damage had been done.

“The offense they run—the flex—keeps those kids down low in the paint and in good rebounding position,” said Kiburis. “We knew going in it might be hard to get them out of there, but they did a really good job. That was the difference in the first half.”

Two backcourt veterans led the way for South O’Brien. Damon Struve scored 20 points, collected a game-high 14 rebounds and dished out seven assists. Kyle Paulsen added 15 points.

One late third-quarter possession summed up the whole game. Following a defensive rebound by Struve, the Wolverines missed two close-range shots, but grabbed both offensive boards. Struve got the second one and the ball eventually got to Paulsen, who buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Wolverines a 46-37 edge.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck pulled within five three times in the fourth quarter, but South O’Brien stayed just out of reach.

“All of us, everyone on the team, fought hard to get back in it,” said Smoldt. “We didn’t lose sight of it. We had a chance to win until the last couple of seconds. I think it was just not getting enough stops. That was the important thing.”

The Rebels made sure to give South O’Brien plenty of respect.

“They played really hard and they’re very well coached,” said Kiburis. “They had two senior guards—Struve and Paulsen—who played in the state tournament last year and demonstrated good leadership. They hit some quality shots in the first half and made some smart plays at the end. Obviously, they deserve a lot of credit for playing really well.”

S. O’Brien 65, Gladbrook-Reinbeck 56

Glad.-Rein. Mn FG-A FT-A Rb As PF TP

Dinsdale 31 0-4 0-0 3 4 4 0

Smoldt 32 8-19 13-14 2 1 2 33

Cooley 25 1-7 0-0 4 0 2 3

Roeding 26 3-7 0-0 4 3 2 6

Pierce 23 3-5 2-2 3 2 4 8

Kickbush 4 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Tscherter 0+ 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Kiburis 0+ 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Eiffler 20 2-8 0-0 3 1 2 6

Team 1

Totals 160 17-50 15-16 20 11 16 56

S. O’Brien Mn FG-A FT-A Rb As PF TP

Struve 32 7-14 5-6 14 7 4 20

Paulsen 28 4-6 4-7 2 1 1 15

Johanson 23 3-5 0-2 1 1 3 6

Maxwell 27 4-4 3-4 3 2 2 11

Haden 25 0-2 6-6 5 2 2 6

Louscher 3 0-0 0-0 1 1 1 0

Weaver 0+ 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Aberson 0+ 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Brasser 11 1-3 0-0 3 2 0 3

Rohrbaugh 11 2-3 0-0 1 0 1 4

Wagner 0+ 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Faust 0+ 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Case 0+ 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Team 3

Totals 160 21-37 18-25 33 16 14 65

Gladbrook-Reinbeck 11 17 11 17-56

South O’Brien 15 18 13 19-65

3-point goals—Gladbrook-Reinbeck 7-27 (Dinsdale 0-4, Smoldt 4-11, Cooley 1-7, Roeding 0-1, Eiffler 2-4), South O’Brien 5-14 (Struve 1-6, Paulsen 3-4, Johanson 0-1, Brasser 1-3). Blocks—Gladbrook-Reinbeck 1 (Pierce), South O’Brien 1 (Maxwell). Steals—Gladbrook-Reinbeck 6 (Smoldt 3), South O’Brien 4 (Struve 2).

Officials—Jeff Horst, Brent Sharff, Robert Smith.

0
0
0
0
0

Sports reporter for The Courier

Load comments