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Rebel redux

Reigning 1A champ Gladbrook-Reinbeck going back to the Well

March 6, 2016

CEDAR FALLS - For the second-straight year, the No. 6 Gladbrook-Reinbeck boys' basketball team is headed back to the state tournament. And for the first time ever, the Rebels are vying to defend the state championship.

After an edgy, 49-41 victory against No. 10 Lynnville-Sully in the Substate 5 final, the Rebels (23-2) punched their ticket for the Class 1A state tournament for the second time in school history.

Junior Joe Smoldt, who averages nearly 25 points per game, tallied just 19 points in less than three and a half quarters played Saturday night at the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls. Head coach Scott Kiburis recognized just how vulnerable the Rebels could be without Smoldt on the floor, but also said there's six guys behind Smoldt who should be helping with the scoring.

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The No. 6 Gladbrook-Reinbeck boys’ basketball team poses with its 2016 state qualifier banner after its 49-41 win against No. 10 Lynnville-Sully on Saturday night in the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls. The Rebels are back to defend their state title in Class 1A after going 28-0 last season.

"We get 44 points [per game] from the rest of the group," Kiburis said. "So, it's not like he's scoring all the points for us. He is, however, creating a lot of those scoring opportunities by drawing defensive guys or he's distributing."

Smoldt found himself in early foul trouble, a rarity for the junior and the Rebels. With just less than five minutes to play in the second quarter, Smoldt picked up his third foul. The Hawks (23-2) would go on a 12-0 run to take a 20-19 lead at halftime.

The biggest success the Rebels found - after scoring zero points once Smoldt left the floor in the first half - was a defensive break toward the end of the second quarter.

"I didn't expect Joe Smoldt to have three fouls in the second quarter," Kiburis said. "We don't practice too much with him out of the game. But we kept it within one point and that was the key thing. We gave [Smoldt] an opportunity to come back there and lead us as our point guard."

Returning in the second half with three fouls, Smoldt tallied just five points total in the second stanza. But it was those scoring opportunities that really let Smoldt and the Rebels thrive late in the game.

Matt Roeding had six second-half points and Tyler Eiffler tallied all 10 of his points in the latter half was well. Smoldt would only pick up one more foul before the night was through, but the Rebels realized just how important he can be to the success of the offense, not just by scoring, but having his hands in scoring opportunities.

"He's pretty important, but the thing about this group is it understands that and it recognizes that," Kiburis said. "But they also know they have to contribute themselves. Last year, we had four big scorers out averaging 12 to 18 [points per game]. This year, it's a little different. We've got six guys after Joe, averaging 44 points. So it adds up."

Unlike a majority of their games this season, the Rebels never really got away from the Hawks. Even with two minutes left in the game, the Hawks hit a pair of 3-pointers to make the lead just six for the Rebels. But fundamental free-throw shooting and heads up defense played a critical role in getting the Rebels back to Des Moines for a chance to defend their state title.

It's been a pretty successful 365 days in Gladbrook-Reinbeck sports, with the boys' basketball, baseball, football and soccer teams all making state tournament runs in the past year. Kiburis said a crucial part of those other sports' success is coming from the same players.

"These kids are playing almost every one of those other sports, if not two or three of them," Kiburis said. "They just enjoy winning and they are proud of themselves. We talk about standards and the standards we set as a program for G-R, because they create it. And they're reaping the benefits."



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