Rebels fly by Eagles, 77-57
Third-ranked G-R rolls on to substate finals
Gladbrook-Reinbeck has been here before.
For the third straight season, the No. 3 Rebels were in a 1A District final — and for the third straight year, they put themselves on the precipice of a state boys’ basketball berth.
A dominant third quarter and consistent scoring from multiple players led to a 77-57 win for G-R Tuesday night in the Class 1A District 11 final, improving the Rebels to 22-2 on the season and advancing them to the Substate 6 finals. Keota ends the year 21-4.
Keota kept the game close in the first quarter with solid shooting from deep and just enough offense against the Rebels’ signature press. Midway through the quarter, guard Caleb Egesdal went down with a rolled ankle and limped to the sidelines.
Minutes later after returning, he keyed the G-R offense with three 3-pointers and 11 total first-half points as the Rebels pushed for separation on the scoreboard.
Head coach Scott Kiburis said Egesdal has a history of rolling his ankle and light ankle sprains and hoped there wouldn’t be any complications ahead of Saturday’s substate final.
Fellow senior William Kiburis was the team’s other offensive leader in the first half with 15 of his game-high 33 points. William also used the attention put on him by the Eagles to great effect, opening up looks for shooters and dump-offs in the post to Drew Eilers.
William said the variety of their offense and the threat of shooters like Egesdal, Luke Riffey and others creates space for him to work in the paint.
“We have a lot of great shooters and it definitely spreads out the defense and opens it up for me, Drew and Luke,” Kiburis said. “Pretty much everyone on our team can store the basketball, so that makes it a lot harder to guard us. It definitely opened up the middle for me and Drew to get to the rim.”
A 41-28 halftime lead was sizable but not enough for the Rebels to come out of the break worry-free. A five-point burst out of the gate pushed the lead up to 46-28 and put the Eagles on the back foot early.
The lead ballooned to 62-39 by the end of the third quarter as even without many minutes from Egesdal, the Rebels saw contributions from multiple players to keep the gap rising steadily. Austin Vaverka, a junior guard who has embraced his backup role as a defender and energy guy, hit a three and then turned a steal into a fast-break layup. Freshman Hudson Clark, rarely in the varsity lineup this season, came in and provided spot defense.
Scott said the team has continued to improve on the defensive end as the years have piled up for this veteran group.
“They’ve just gotten better every year on the defensive end,” Scott said. “Offensively they always like to shoot, obviously, and get into offense, but it’s the defensive that’s gotten progressively a little bit better and we kind of know our roles there. They posed a few different threats for us, they had some good perimeter shooters, a point guard that attacks the basket and a good post player. We did a good job there.”
G-R led by as much as 26 points in the game as the minutes ticked down and business was taken care of. Riffey finished with 13, Egesdal with 11 and Vaverka scored seven. Eilers finished with eight.
Cole Kindred led Keota with 15 points, while Sawyer Stout scored 10 and Billie Kindred scored nine points with three 3-pointers.
Up next for the Rebels is a matchup with District 12 champs No. 10 Lynnville-Sully, who defeated conference opponent North Mahaska 62-42 Tuesday night to make it to Marshalltown for Saturday’s game. Lynnville-Sully is 22-2 and has four players averaging double-figures in scoring – Klayton Van Dyke at 12.3, Mitchell Miller at 11.7, Conner Maston at 10.3 per game and Preston Rodibaugh at 10.1.
The Class 1A Substate 6 final will take place at the Marshalltown Roundhouse, with a 6:30 p.m. scheduled tip on Saturday (Feb. 25).
In the last two seasons, this next stage is where heartbreak has hit for the Rebels. William and Scott said they’ll do everything in their power to get across the line against the Hawks.
“This is the third time,” William said. “I think we played well tonight and we gave ourselves a chance, hopefully we can capitalize this year.”
“They’ve got a good program, we’ve got a tough task,” Scott added. “We’re just going to get ready and prepared and try to put our best effort out there on Saturday.”