Rebels battle past the Wildcats

G-R’s Emma McClintock stretches out for a loose ball against Hope Hovenga (3) of Janesville. The Rebels defeated the Wildcats 39-31. -- Photo by Darvin Graham/Sun Courier

REINBECK — The Gladbrook-Reinbeck girls team edged out the Janesville Wildcats 39-31 on Monday in a NICL versus Iowa Star conference matchup.

The win gives Gladbrook-Reinbeck its fifth victory of the season following a difficult run of blowout loses to Grundy Center, Sumner-Fredericksburg and AGWSR.

The Rebels have been banged up most of the season with a number of starters having to be sidelined with injuries and health issues. Monday the team was without leading scorer Saari Kuehl but welcomed back sophomore post Megan Cooley and junior point guard Mahayla Olson to the lineup. Cooley has been out of the lineup since before the holiday break while Olson missed the previous game against Grundy Center on Jan. 12.

“You know, we’re we’re pretty beat up,” head coach Roger Oberhauser said. “The last couple of games we’ve taken some lumps and it was good to get, Cooley back and good to have a healthier Mahayla Olson; that helped a lot.”

The teams traded buckets in a low scoring first half that saw Janesville with a one-point lead, 12-11, going into halftime.

Megan Cooley (24), Mahayla Olson (5), Katie Clark (10) and Belen Ellenberger (3) celebrate after G-R’s win over Janesville on Jan. 18. -- Photo by Darvin Graham/Sun Courier

“I thought our defense for the most part was solid,” Oberhauser said. “They had good guards. I knew there were some mismatches. We knew going in that they would be quick on the outside and they like to spread the floor. So we knew we had to go out and get them.”

Janesville won out through the first three quarters of the game, widening their lead to six points going into the fourth.

G-R found another gear in the fourth quarter however and was able to disrupt the rhythm Janesville had established. The Rebels defense tightened up and sophomore guard Emma McClintock nailed two three-pointers in the fourth to help drive the G-R lead.

It’s honest to say it took us three quarters to finally get going,” Oberhauser said. “We had some troubles offensively but I think with all the different substitution patterns we’ve had over the last three games, that’s no surprise. But I would say the defensive effort was the best I’ve seen all year. Emma McClintock came up huge for us. Not only not only from those two threes she had, but she had some important steals as well. Katie Clark, I think 13 rebounds which was good. Our turnovers were limited, which for the first time in three games was a positive.”

McClintock led her team with 10 points and six steals. The rest of the scoring for the Rebels came by committee as Cooley, Clark and Olson each scored seven and guard Belen Ellenberger put in six including a pair of critical free throws late in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore forward Megan Cooley drives to the hoop against Janesville’s Kassidy Dunbar. -- Photo by Darvin Graham/Sun Courier

Clark led the team with a season high 13 rebounds.

The Rebels sit at 5-6 headed into Thursday’s matchup with Columbus Catholic who are 6-9 among a competitive field of NICL East teams.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck will be at home Friday to take on the East Marshall Mustangs.

Belen Ellenberger stares down the lane before taking a free throw late in the game against Janesville. Ellenberger sunk two critical free throws in the fourth that helped Gladbrook-Reinbeck to the win. -- Photo by Darvin Graham/Sun Courier