Rebels keep Pirates at bay

G-R heads back to substate after edging Alburnett

Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Tristen Sanford-Anders (40) shoots over Alburnett defender Tytan Bowers during the second half of Tuesday’s Class 1A District 7 final at Center Point-Urbana High School in Center Point. Sanford-Anders scored 18 points as the sixth-ranked Rebels advanced with a 52-42 win. Photo by Noah Rolfing

One year later, Gladbrook-Reinbeck boys’ basketball is back in substate — but getting there wasn’t easy.

The Rebels led most of the way against Alburnett Tuesday night in the Class 1A District 7 final, but the Pirates made No. 6 G-R sweat in a 52-42 victory that moved the Rebels (23-1) to the doorstep of the state tournament.

Alburnett (17-7) targeted William Kiburis and tried to prevent G-R’s leading scorer from getting into any sort of rhythm with on-ball pressure, while off the ball the Pirates were loath to allow Luke Riffey and Caleb Egesdal open looks from 3-point range.

So, in the second and third quarters, it was key for G-R to get senior post Tristen Sanford-Anders to get going. With the Rebels controlling both the defensive and offensive glass, Sanford-Anders scored 18 points — 11 of those points coming in the second and third quarters — and helped create some looks for William by drawing attention to his post presence.

“I’d say it’s really important,” Sanford-Anders said. “All of us can score, so it’s kind of hard for them to shut down one of us because we score and distribute the ball so well.”

William scored a game-high 21 points and was able to wind his way into the lane for multiple layups, often in moments where the Rebels were in need of a basket. Almost all of G-R’s work on offense was in the paint — Sanford-Anders hit the team’s only 3-pointer in the second quarter.

Leading 26-19 at the end of the first half, G-R sensed a chance to build its lead early in the second half. An 8-0 run pushed the gap to 34-19 and forced a Pirates timeout. But despite the largest lead of the game coming at 40-23 halfway through the third quarter, Alburnett closed the gap to 42-32 by the end of the quarter and pushed its way back into the game. Using on-ball pressure and blitzing on defense and capitalizing on the other end with timely baskets, the Pirates twice got within five points.

Head coach Scott Kiburis said the Pirates certainly made it difficult for G-R.

“I knew they were good, they’ve traditionally been very good,” Scott said. “Every basket we scored we had to earn.

“Alburnett’s really good, I was really anxious about this game.”

The introduction of Tytan Bowers for Alburnett somewhat blunted Sanford-Anders’ offensive impact in the fourth quarter as both teams had to grind for every basket. With less than three minutes to play, the score was 47-42 in favor of G-R. With less than two minutes to play and trailing by seven, Alburnett began to press and foul in order to make the game last as long as possible.

Two turnovers and two missed front-ends of 1-and-1s kept the score 49-42 for over a full minute, while strong defense from Riffey on the perimeter and defensive rebounding by the Rebels kept the Pirates from making a late run. One free throw from Egesdal and two from William in the final seconds sealed the win, but it was far from comfortable.

“It’s hard to run out that clock, you know?” Scott said. “I thought we did a really good job on defense securing the defensive rebound, I thought we did really well forcing them to take shots they didn’t want to and stopping them there.”

Now, the Rebels will look to Saturday’s substate final against 12-12 Bellevue, which will be held at Clear Creek-Amana High School in Tiffin at 7 p.m. Bellevue has played a mostly Class 2A schedule and brings nine players taller than 6-feet to the table — potentially another tough test for the Rebels as they try to reach state for the first time since 2017.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck 52, Alburnett 42

ALBURNETT (17-7) — Braydon Osborn 4 1-2 9, Andrew Ossman 5 2-4 14, Gavin Soukup 3 0-0 8, Mason Neighbor 1 0-0 2, Anthony Yamilkoski 2 0-0 4, Jordan Caton 0 0-0 0, Tytan Bowers 1 0-0 2, Adam Neighbor 1 0-0 3, Grayson Carolan 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 17 3-6 42.

GLADBROOK-REINBECK (23-1) — Isaac Clark 0 2-2 2, Luke Riffey 2 0-1 4, Caleb Egesdal 1 1-2 3, William Kiburis 8 5-6 21, Tristen Sanford-Anders 7 3-5 18, Austin Vaverka 0 0-0 0, Drew Eilers 2 0-0 4. TOTALS 20 11-16 52.

ALBURNETT 6 13 13 10 — 42

G-R 10 16 16 10 — 52

3-Point Goals-Alburnett 5 (Ossman 2, Soukup 2, A.Neighbor), G-R 1 (Sanford-Anders). Team Fouls-Alburnett 14, G-R 8. Fouled Out-none.