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Rebels ready for round two

Top-ranked Gladbrook-Reinbeck to face fellow state newcomer in No. 8 Earlham

March 15, 2015
TYLER STRAND - Central Iowa Press , Reinbeck Courier

Not long after capturing the school's first state tournament victory, Gladbrook-Reinbeck coach Scott Kiburis had his eyes fixated on the action on the Wells Fargo Arena floor once again.

This time it was as a spectator scouting his Rebels' next opponent. What he saw in eighth-ranked Earlham's 63-50 victory over Belle Plaine reminded him a bit of his own squad. And it was more than enough to know the Rebels will have their hands full with a balanced Cardinal club in Thursday's first Class 1A semifinal at 10:30 a.m.

"Based on some of the guys they have, they kind of look a little bit like us - a couple of shooters, a couple of inside guys," Kiburis said. "Canyon Hopkins has been a very good player for them the last couple years and he can handle the ball well and shoot the ball real well from the high post. We've got to contain the Schmidt boys (Alan and Dan), both are very good, high-percentage 3-point shooters kind of like Camden (Kickbush) and Joe (Smoldt). They play both man and zone. (Aplington-Parkersburg) was a very good opponent but they're right up there with the better teams that we've played all year."

Hopkins, a 6-foot-4 junior, leads Earlham's attack at 16.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game and is a threat both inside and beyond the arc. He's shooting 56.5 percent from the field and 43.6 percent from deep as the Cardinals (24-2) have five players who have hit at least a dozen 3-pointers this year.

Senior Alan Schmidt has knocked down a team-best 50 triples en route to 15.4 points a game, while his brother, Dan, has provided a spark off the bench with 43 treys at a team-best 45 percent clip and is chipping in just over 9 points a contest.

Dan Schmidt sparked Earlham's 18-0 second quarter surge against the Plainsmen Monday with three treys and 12 points during the run. He finished 4-for-8 behind the arc with 15 points, while Hopkins had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Andy Algreen nearly doubled his scoring average with 15.

"It's not one guy every game, they have five kids averaging (at least) eight points a game," Kiburis said. "They've got inside threats and they've got outside threats.

"Hopkins is a quality player, he's a big kid that handles the ball real well and a lot of their offense goes through him. Alan Schmidt and Dan Schmidt both shoot the ball pretty well from the 3-point line. We've got to contain (Dan Schmidt), he's the one who kind of got them in the game (Monday) with Belle Plaine doing a diamond-and-one on one of their perimeter guys so he knocked down a few 3s there to get the lead. We know they can shoot it quite a bit so it will definitely be a test."

Propelled by their stellar backcourt, the Rebels will continue to look for opportunities to push the pace and while Earlham averages just over 70 points a game and also thrives in playing up-tempo, they'd rather not get into a high-scoring affair with G-R.

"They're very similar to us in that it looks like they like to get up and down," Earlham coach Kevin Williamson said after his team's quarterfinal win.

"I don't want to get in a shootout with Gladbrook. We've got some shooters that will be OK, but I'd prefer we play a little defense instead."

Like the Rebels, Earlham is also in the midst of its first state tournament run and rides an 11-game win streak into Thursday's contest.

Williamson and his fifth-seeded Cardinals saw the Rebels' high-octane attack up close and personal Monday and know they'll have to be more accountable on both ends of the court.

"We've got to defend because Gladbrook, as soon as they set up in the gym, they're shooting - literally. We've got to do a better job defending and taking care of the ball on our end."

The Rebels were able to lock in on Nodaway Valley's top scorer in Jackson Lamb but G-R will have more weapons to account for this time. The 'Cards hope keeping the ball moving between those options will help them counter G-R's physicality and size inside.

"They remind us a little bit of us but they're larger than us but I think we're quicker," Dan Schmidt said. "I think we'll be able to compete if we just get the ball movement."

Smoldt and Kickbush highlighted G-R's prolific offense with a combined 55 points in the 80-57 victory over Nodaway Valley though Kiburis believes Zach Pierce and Cameron Clark will likely play bigger roles Thursday. Both guards are adept at finding their teammates if the Cards shift too much attention on the Rebels' backcourt tandem.

"We want to push the action, we're very good in transition especially with the two guards," Kiburis said. "They like to find each other as they come down the floor or look for themselves for penetration into the lane and the opportunities they have there. Based on what defense they're playing, we'll take a look at what our strengths are.

"We always see gimmicks, Joe and Camden have not only shot the ball real well this year, they can be manned up pretty closely. Zach Pierce and Cameron Clark, I think they're going to be key factors in the game not only on the boards but probably also as offensive threats."

The winner of Thursday's contest will face either second-ranked Danville (26-0) or No. 3 Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto (25-1) in the Class 1A state championship Friday at 6:06 p.m.

Kiburis was excited not only with how strong his team came out in Monday's opener but also how dedicated the fan support was from the entire community which will get to enjoy a week-long ride with the Rebels who guaranteed themselves three games with the victory.

"It's been awesome," Kiburis said. "That was a lot of fun (Monday), the way we came out and all the people. I was just really excited for the kids but I'm really excited for the fact that the community could come out again Thursday and get another opportunity on Friday and make it more than just a one-day thing. We were able to make it last another week."

Notebook

Earlham's two losses include Panorama and Des Moines Christian. The Cardinals beat Nodaway Valley 58-51 on Jan. 31 in Earlham. The Cards own two victories over Class 2A state qualifier Woodward Academy, while G-R beat 2A semifinalist Aplington-Parkersburg in its regular season finale. Friday's consolation game is slated for 10 a.m. Smoldt moved within six points of tying G-R's single-season scoring record (480) set by Matt Thede in 1996-97. Kickbush's five treys Monday established a new single-season record of 67, surpassing Kyle Dirks' 65 in 1996-97.

 
 

 

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