Rebels’ route hits roadblock

Back-to-back heartbreak as G-R falls to Bellevue in OT

Gladbrook-Reinbeck junior William Kiburis, center, walks off the court in disbelief as members of the Bellevue boys’ basketball team celebrate their Class 1A Substate 4 victory over the sixth-ranked Rebels, winning 58-54 in overtime on Saturday night at Clear Creek-Amana High School in Tiffin. Kiburis scored a game-high 22 points in G-R’s second consecutive substate finals defeat. – Photo by Ross Thede

After a heart-wrenching defeat in the Class 1A substate finals in 2020-21, there was an unspoken focus and intensity about the Gladbrook-Reinbeck boys’ basketball team in 2021-22. The Rebels wanted to get back to the big stage and make amends.

They got back to the substate finals and led Saturday night’s matchup with Bellevue with less than one minute to play.

What happened next was more heartbreak.

Bellevue scored five straight points in a 10-second span, forced overtime and then ground out a 58-54 victory to advance to state, leaving the No. 6 Rebels (23-2) at the altar for the second consecutive year.

Head coach Scott Kiburis said effort and focus was not the issue for G-R on Saturday.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck senior Tristen Sanford-Anders (40) is fouled by Bellevue’s Cole Heim on his way to the basket during the second half of Saturday’s Class 1A Substate 4 championship boys basketball game in Tiffin. – Photo by Ross Thede

“I’m very proud of them, we battled,” coach Kiburis said. “That game was very back-and-forth. They kept making athletic plays, they are fast down the floor with the ball on offense.”

After some jitters in the first quarter from both teams it was the Comets (13-12) who settled into a rhythm first, taking a 20-14 lead early in the second quarter and pushing their advantage to 28-19 with less than two minutes to play in the first half. G-R was on the ropes.

A 5-0 run to end the half at 28-24 Bellevue was a much better result for G-R. The momentum created by the spurt at the end of the half turned into a 13-0 run at the beginning of the third quarter. From trailing 28-24 to leading 37-28, it was now Bellevue on the brink.

But missed opportunities to push the gap to 10-plus points would come back to bite the Rebels.

“Any turnover in that situation they were able to get something out of it,” coach Kiburis said. “That was a good matchup. We’d like to have it over and make a couple of different plays, but it was a really good game.


“It’s tough to lose it.”

Bellevue’s defensive strategy of packing the lane in a 3-2 and 2-3 zone to make things difficult for William Kiburis and Tristen Sanford-Anders (eight points) was very effective. The Rebels took plenty of 3-pointers, hitting seven — five from Caleb Egesdal (17 total points) and one each from William and Luke Riffey — but despite William’s 22 points, the paint was a difficult place to find easy looks for the Rebels.

Two and-one baskets in the paint before the end of the third quarter shrunk the gap to 37-34 heading into the final frame.

Much of the fourth quarter was a back-and-forth, with the Rebels’ lead fluctuating between two and four points. Leading by three with 40 seconds to play, Bellevue’s Jensen Wedeking buried a 3-pointer to tie things up. Following a quick G-R turnover, the Comets took a 47-45 lead on a fast break layup with 20 seconds remaining. The fast break hurt G-R multiple times Saturday night, with coach Kiburis saying the Comets were more effective in transition than in the half-court.

William found his way into the paint for a game-tying layup to force overtime.


G-R briefly led in OT, but turnovers and missed shots took their toll.

For the second straight year, the game was ripped away from the Rebels in the fourth quarter or overtime.

With only Sanford-Anders and Drake Blakesley graduating, G-R will likely be considered a strong threat to return with a deep playoff run in 2022-23.

How they use these experiences to learn and adapt will prove crucial in changing the tide.

“We got a lot of guys ret

urning,” William said. “No doubt in my mind that I think we’ll be back here next year. Hopefully we’ll have a different outcome.”

Bellevue 58, Gladbrook-Reinbeck 54, OT

BELLEVUE (13-12) — Jensen Wedeking 8-13 1-2 18, Cole Heim 2-7 0-0 6, Jackson Mueller 4-4 2-2 10, Colby Sieverding 5-15 4-6 14, Robert Paulsen 0-3 0-0 0, Hunter Putman 3-6 0-0 7, Tyler Nemmers 1-4 0-0 3, Liam Dunne 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS 23-52 7-10 58.

GLADBROOK-REINBECK (23-2) — Isaac Clark 1-2 0-0 2, Luke Riffey 2-11 0-0 5, Caleb Egesdal 6-17 0-0 17, William Kiburis 8-17 5-6 22, Tristen Sanford-Anders 3-7 2-5 8, Austin Vaverka 0-1 0-0 0, Drew Eilers 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS 20-55 7-11 54.

BELLEVUE 12 16 6 13 11 — 58

G-R 11 13 13 10 7 — 54

3-Point Goals-Bellevue 5-15 (Heim 2-5, Wedeking 1-1, Putman 1-2, Nemmers 1-3, Sieverding 0-4), G-R 7-28 (Egesdal 5-16 Kiburis 1-4, Riffey 1-7, Clark 0-1). Rebounds-Bellevue 29 (Mueller 7), G-R 35 (Kiburis 12). Assists-Bellevue 13 (Nemmers 4), G-R 13 (Kiburis 5). Team Fouls-Bellevue 13, G-R 13. Fouled Out-Sanford-Anders.