Third time’s the charm

Kiburis, Rebels reach state with tense victory over Lynnville-Sully

Gladbrook-Reinbeck seniors William Kiburis (11) and Luke Riffey (1) celebrate as the final horn sounds on the Rebels’ 56-53 victory over Lynnville-Sully in last Saturday’s Class 1A Substate 6 championship game at the Roundhouse in Marshalltown. Gladbrook-Reinbeck advances to the state tournament for the first time since 2017. PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING

On the face of senior Gladbrook-Reinbeck guard William Kiburis, jubilation and relief were one and the same last Saturday night in the MHS Roundhouse when the final buzzer sounded. All of the ups and downs were over — the Rebels, the No. 3-ranked team in Class 1A, were finally back in the big time.

After two years of heartbreak in substate finals, the Rebels broke through for the first time since 2017 with a 56-53 victory over No. 10 Lynnville-Sully in the Class 1A Substate 6 final — punching G-R’s ticket to Wells Fargo Arena.

Kiburis couldn’t contain how happy he was with the win.

“It feels like a mountain off our backs, you know,” Kiburis said. “Coming to substate two years in a row with a lead in the fourth and losing, those are the things that you kind of think about when you’re playing those games after. I think everybody on the team is really happy to make this next step.”

G-R is now 23-2 on the season. The Hawks end the with a 22-3 record.


Coming into Saturday night’s matchup, the Rebels knew they were at a size disadvantage. For much of the game, the Hawks played four players at or over 6-feet tall — including center Klayton Van Dyke at 6-foot, 6-inches and Conner Maston at 6-foot, 4 inches. It was a tall task in the paint for G-R center Drew Eilers and Kiburis. On the offensive end, the Rebels were somewhat limited early — heavily relying on Kiburis driving the lane and getting to the free-throw line to get the team going. A back-and-forth first quarter ended with G-R leading 15-14 and the tension high in the building. An early second-quarter run kept the Rebels’ lead up, helped by two first-half threes from Isaac Clark. Clark has been up-and-down in his 3-point percentages this season, but in a big game he was a critical second scorer at a gym he plays a lot in the summer.

“It felt fantastic, I like this gym,” Clark said. “We play summer league here, so it felt good. It felt great, the atmosphere was amazing.”

Clark, senior Caleb Egesdal and Kiburis were the only three G-R players to score in the first half but a 23-19 halftime advantage was the result.

Lynnville-Sully scored the first two points of the second half, but the next 11 points came from Gladbrook-Reinbeck to give the Rebels their biggest lead of the night. At that point, it was looking good for G-R and there was plenty of momentum and ability behind the team’s play. At one point in the third quarter, the Rebels had 36 points — with Kiburis scoring 21, Clark adding nine and Egesdal chipping in with six. It wasn’t until Luke Riffey’s layup in the final minute of the frame that a fourth G-R player was on the scoreboard. Still, the Rebels held a 38-35 advantage.

A three from Riffey helped G-R push the lead back to 47-38 about three minutes into the fourth quarter, but the Hawks were not willing to let the game get away from them so quickly. A combination of big baskets from Preston Rodibaugh and Corder Noun Harder cut the lead down to three heading into the game’s final minutes. Despite leading for the vast majority of the game, the Rebels needed baskets in big moments to keep the Hawks at bay.


Riffey said he wasn’t too nervous in the final minutes, despite the Hawks creeping closer.

“Kind of got some flashbacks from last year, I think a kid from Bellevue hit [that shot],” Riffey said. “Moments like that, I think we’re really prepared for because we play some tough teams and we’ve had some battles this season.”

Kiburis was at the free throw line often late in the fourth. After hitting five of his first six second-half free throws, three straight misses were followed by a second fourth-quarter three from Rodibaugh — stoking fear in the G-R crowd and loud cheers from the Hawks’ section.

The G-R senior said he felt the past two years of heartbreak coming back after Rodibaugh cut the lead to 53-51 with 46 seconds remaining.

“Rodibaugh just hit big shot after big shot, just making 3-pointers,” Kiburis said. “And I’m missing free throws. I’m like, ‘Gosh, this is gonna happen again.'”


On the next possession, an instinctive pass in the low post to Eilers for a tough lay-in pushed the gap to 55-51 with less than 20 seconds left. Eilers had only five points, but all five came in the fourth quarter at key moments.

A missed three and one more Kiburis free throw later, the celebrations were on. Lynnville-Sully got a putback layup to go at the buzzer, but it was no matter.

There was a party to be had.

Kiburis scored a game-high 27 points, followed by 13 from Clark, six from Egesdal and five from Riffey. Rodibaugh scored 15 for the Hawks while Noun Harder finished with 14. Dawson James added seven points.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s state journey will begin with a matchup against No. 6 seed Remsen St. Mary’s on March 6 at 3:45 p.m. The Rebels will be the No. 3 seed in the tournament.


They will start preparing for state this week, but at least for one day head coach Scott Kiburis was soaking in the moment and reflecting on what it means to make the state tournament while coaching his son.

“As a parent, it’s awesome,” Scott said. “In Colorado, we won a state championship back in 2007 and he got to go on the floor but he was like two years old, he doesn’t know what’s going on. He got to be a part of the Joe Smoldt years, he was always on the bench.

“He wanted a trip to Wells Fargo, I know he did. We haven’t talked about the loss last year, and man I really wanted it for him, he’s put a lot of time and effort into it and he’s got great friends and teammates that he wanted to share this with.”