Top-ranked G-R topples Trojan boys

STATE CENTER — Joe Smoldt seemingly picked right back up where he left off after last winter’s state tournament in Des Moines.

The senior Smoldt had a 30-spot and junior Caden Kickbush had 15 more to help the Class 1A No. 1 Rebels to help lead the Rebels to a 62-31 win at West Marshall on Tuesday

With all seven of his points coming in the second half, Cameron Bannister led the way for the Trojans (0-4, 0-2), paired with Alex Dickey’s seven points, who, too, canned a 3-pointer in the first half.

“We’re just trying to keep track of Kickbush and Smoldt and put somebody in their face,” Trojans coach Paul deNeui said. “And then protect inside. Smoldt was on fire. Four 3s in the first quarter, but he had 16 in the first quarter. When he’s on fire, he’s on fire.”

Even the heckling crowd jeering him on to shoot the ball whenever he had possession, Smoldt wouldn’t be shut down until late in the second quarter when he had his first miss of the night, a blocked shot.

Smoldt finished with 30 points, 22 of them coming in the first half. Kickbush finished with 13 on three made 3-pointers and a pair of jumpers, while Thomas Mussig grabbed 15 points under the hoop and at the free-throw line (3-for-4).

Mussig is filling in for the injured senior Tyler Pierce, who tore his ACL earlier this summer. The senior inside man has had plenty of time to get adjusted to the post position, where G-R head coach Scott Kiburis said he’s starting to thrive.

“Thomas knew he was going to have to step in and play a lot of minutes at the five-spot,” Kiburis said. “And once he went through his last open gym we had in early August, I said, ‘Football season starts, you don’t have to touch a basketball until you win the championship.’ And that happened for him, the captain of the team. So, he didn’t have a great game Friday [against BGM], but he played really, really well today.”

Kiburis credited Mussig’s performance to strictly confidence, noting how going up strong to the basket and taking contested shots showcased his athletic ability.

The freedom under the hoop was partially to the credit of Smoldt’s hot start, but an all around complete and coherent game of basketball ended up solidifying the final blow to West Marshall.

Four Trojan players made 3-pointers, three of which came in the first quarter, to try and do anything to bring their team back into Tuesday night’s contest. Bannister, who led West Marshall with his seven points, made a 3-pointer in the second half, while also going 2-for-2 from the free-throw line and driving to the basket, scoring all his points in the latter stanza.

David Disney did his best against big men Mussig, Matt Roeding and omnipresent Smoldt down low, scoring six points, but struggled to capitalize on Rebel mistakes, going 0-for-6 at the charity stripe.

The loss is the fourth-straight for the Trojans, which is nothing short of frustrating for a team that has been in the thick of it with three ranked teams in those contests.

“Believing that we can play with teams like this,” deNeui said. “Sticking together, and doing the little things that cause great teams to win. We’ve got to start figuring out how to do that. The mental part is a big thing for us right now.”

Besides Mussig, Smoldt and Kickbush, just two other Rebels scored Tuesday night. Jackson Kiburis had a bucket for two points in the first half, and Roeding grabbed a basket early as well in the first quarter.

“With Caden Kickbush, we want to get him going, too,” Kiburis said. “And with the two guards, I think it makes it kind of difficult with what defense you want to play. Caden has worked extremely hard this offseason to become a really good player and be a good scorer.”

G-R will head on the road to Eldora to play South Hardin on Friday, while West Marshall hits the road to take on Grundy Center to kick off the weekend as well.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck 62, West Marshall 31

G-R (2-0, 1-0) — Matt Johanssen 0 0-0 0, Caden Kickbush 5 0-0 13, Joe Smoldt 13 0-0 30, Thomas Mussig 6 3-4 15, Matt Roeding 1 0-0 2, Deagan Haack 0 0-0 0, Tyler Tscherter 0 0-0 0, Jackson Kiburis 1 0-0 2, Jed Peterson 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 26 3-4 62.

WEST MARSHALL (0-4, 0-2) — Beau Coberley 1 1-2 4, Alex Dickey 3 0-0 7, Cole Baccam 0 0-0 0, Cameron Bannister 2 2-2 7, David Disney 3 0-6 6, Chandler Sponseller 0 0-0 0, Michael Doe 0 0-0 0, Josh Larsen 1 0-0 2, Mark Van Metre 0 0-0, Joe Halverson 2 0-0 5, Peter Wilkinson 0 0-0 0, John Hohnstein 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 12 3-10 31.

G-R    22    18    10    22    —    62

W. MARSHALL    11    7    5    8    —    31

3-Point Goals–G-R 7 (Smoldt 4, Kickbush 3), WM 4 (Coberly, A. Dickey, Bannister, Halverson). Total Fouls–G-R 11, WM 6. Fouled Out–None.