DES MOINES — Joe Smoldt wasn’t satisfied with his performance through 24 minutes.
Though he’d been productive in other aspects of the game, the state’s leading scorer felt like he needed to do more to help get Gladbrook-Reinbeck into the Class 1A state title game.
He did just that.
The senior guard scored five points on the Rebels’ first two possessions of the fourth quarter, giving them a lead they’d never surrender in a 58-53 semifinal win over top-seeded North Linn of Troy Mills Thursday.
Smoldt scored eight of his 19 points in the final period as G-R, which trailed 33-26 at the half, completed its comeback and denied the Lynx a perfect season.
“I kind of had the mindset that I had to start (stepping) up for my team because I hadn’t played the best in the first three quarters,” Smoldt said.
Though the points took awhile to come, Smoldt made up for it in other ways, adding nine rebounds and eight assists.
“Joe has over 500 assists in his career so he does more than just score 30 points per game,” Gladbrook-Reinbeck Coach Scott Kiburis said. “And today’s is a perfect example of that.”
The Rebels got double-figure scoring contributions from two others. Tyler Pierce scored 17 points on 6 of 9 shooting, while Caden Kickbush added 12 points and 9 rebounds.
The Rebel defense also played a key role in the comeback, holding the Lynx to just 5 of 28 shooting from the floor in the second half, including an 0 of 8 start to the fourth quarter.
After hitting five 3-pointers in the first half, North Linn came away empty on 13 second-half attempts.
The Rebels also corrected a major issue that plagued them in Monday’s semifinal win over Lynnville-Sully. After being outrebounded 44-22 in their state opener, G-R had a 35-30 edge on the glass Thursday.
Experience also seemed to play a major role down the stretch. G-R is in its third-consecutive state tournament, while Norh Linn, which has no seniors, reached state for the first time since 1977.
Next up for Gladbrook-Reinbeck is a championship game tilt today with Grand Valley Christian, which knocked off St. Mary’s Ramsen 45-36 in the day’s other semifinal.
A win would secure a second state championship in three years for a Rebel team eager to have another chance to solidify itself as the top team in its class.
“When we looked up at the scoreboard and there was zero seconds left, it was like ‘wow, we’re back,’ Tyler Pierce said. “I kind of feel like I’m floating right now because that’s how awesome it is.”
Today’s title game tips at 6:05 p.m.
North Linn 58, North Linn 53
GLADBROOK-REINBECK (26-2) — Walker Thede 3 0-1 6, Caden Kickbush 3 4-4 12, Joe Smoldt 6 3-4 19, Matt Roeding 1 0-0 2, Tyler Pierce 6 5-7 17, Thomas Mussig 1 0-0 2, Mason Skovgard 0 0-0 0. Total 20 12-16 58
NORTH LINN (23-1) — Jake Hilmer 7 6-8 20, David Seber 1 0-0 3, Ryan Miller 4 4-4 15, Trevor Boge 2 1-2 5, Adam Waskow 3 0-0 6, Bradley Pflughaupt 1 0-0 3, Carter Johnson 0 1-2 1. Total 18 12-16 53
Gladbrook-Reinbeck 15 11 14 18— 58
North Linn 16 17 9 11 — 53
3-point goals—Gladbrook-Reinbeck 6 (Smoldt 4, Kickbush 2), North Linn 5 (Miller 3, Seber 1, Pflughaupt 1). Team fouls—Gladbrook-Reinbeck 12, North Linn 17. Fouled out—Waskow.