Pirates run aground in Reinbeck
Sanford-Anders leads G-R with 31-point double-double
The Gladbrook-Reinbeck Rebels shot into the new year like a bullet from a gun. Coming off a 20-point victory over previously undefeated North Mahaska and a proper throttling of the North Tama Redhawks (73-39) to end the fall semester, it might have been easy for the Rebels to let their foot off the gas over break.
That was not the case Tuesday as G-R (9-0) defeated the Hudson Pirates (1-7) 83-65 in Reinbeck for their first game of the new year.
“I don’t think the layoff hurt us as much,” Head Coach Scott Kiburis said after the game. “I mean, it was good to kind of look back and say, ‘Okay, you did pretty well there.’ But we have a tough schedule ahead of us. And nothing is ever easy. Tonight I thought we answered the call for the start of 2022.”
The Rebels got a season-high scoring performance from their senior center Tristan Sanford-Anders dominated the low post while scoring 31 points from nearly every spot on the floor.
“Before the game I heard their coach say something like, ‘Don’t guard him.’ So I was like, yeah, I got this. But we passed the ball well tonight. My teammates gave me a lot of really good looks right underneath that makes it easy for me. Then I see a couple go in and it starts to feel like I could really do something.”
Sanford-Anders ended the night with the game’s only double-double as he pulled down 11 rebounds to go along with the scoring.
The other side of G-R’s double-edged sword was another strong offensive night from William Kiburis.
The junior combo guard got hot in the second half and ended the night with 28 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals.
In the first half Kiburis got to the free throw line several times where he finished shooting 10-for-13.
Guards Luke Riffey and Caleb Egesdal were key in moving the ball for the Rebels the whole night and found points at moments when they were needed. Both juniors finished with eight points while Riffey added seven assists and five steals to his stat line.
The Rebels started the night hot, going on a 9-0 run to start the game and holding the Pirates scoreless until the 4:45 mark in the first quarter.
“I thought we had the advantage inside with Tristan underneath,” Coach Kiburis said. “And we took enough cuts and got him the ball enough to really take advantage of his height and his inside scoring ability.”
As the game progressed, Hudson’s offense slowly gained momentum. The second quarter started with two quick field goals by the Pirates but the Rebels answered almost every challenge Hudson put in front of them.
“I really thought that our guards did a good job under pressure,” Coach Kiburis said. “Sometimes two guys coming out and moving that ball around is a really crucial thing. For them to get it to William at the inside of the high post where he could make something happen and be a playmaker helped him find some decent shots and helped keep our scoring going.”
The Pirates kept punching in the second half despite trailing by 20 points. In the third quarter they put up 21 points and two minutes into the fourth quarter they cut the Rebels’ lead to 14 by forcing some turnovers and sinking three point shots on the other end.
“I mean, they just don’t quit,” Coach Kiburis said. “They did the same thing against A-P and some other teams. Even though they got behind early they didn’t stop. Their guards just made a lot of jump shots at the end and I thought they did a really good job of presenting something different to us with their matchup zone and playing hard the whole game.”
Sophomore guard Culin Ugrin had the hot hand for the Pirates in the second half, ending the game with a team-high 25 points off of a perfect 7-for-7 night at the three-point line.
With the holiday break and their first game of the new year now behind them, the undefeated Rebels appear as ready as ever for a successful run into the second half of the season.
On paper the Rebels project to be the favorites in most of their remaining regular season matchups, however they’ve already had one close shave against a team with a losing record, escaping with a one-point victory against Jesup (2-3) on Dec. 14.
The challenge for G-R will be to remain focused and motivated each time they take the court for their remaining 13 regular season games.
Three dates that players, coaches and fans likely have circled on the calendar are their two conference matchups with Grundy Center on Jan. 14 and Feb. 4 as well as a high-profile showdown with fifth-ranked Aplington-Parkersburg (8-1) on Jan. 25 in Parkersburg.
“Down the stretch we want to be a better defensive team than we’ve been in the past,” Coach Kiburis said. “We’ve been able to score fairly well so far. It’s more, ‘Can we make the stops when we need to make the stops in games?’ So we’re always working on defense and working on little things so we can mesh the kids coming in off the bench into the different spots so we can be as good as we can and be able to go, you know, eight to 10 players deep.”
The Rebels are on a home stand for the next few games. Friday night they will host East Marshall and next week Monday and Tuesday they will host Sumner-Fredericksburg and Columbus Catholic.