Lynx lock down Rebels in substate finals
VINTON — Before anyone blinked in the Class 1A Substate 4 final on Saturday night between the Gladbrook-Reinbeck boys’ basketball team and No. 1 North Linn, the Lynx had already built up a double-digit lead.
North Linn started the game on a 19-0 run that had the Rebels reeling almost from the opening tip off, and by the time G-R came up for breath at halftime it was already down 57-26.
That lead would only continue to expand, as the Lynx handed the Rebels their worst loss in the Quikstats era, winning in the substate final 84-41 and moving on to the state tournament.
After the game, Gladbrook-Reinbeck head coach Scott Kiburis said somebody had to face North Linn in the substate game, and unfortunately his team was chosen as tribute.
“I think we drew the short straw and had to play them and they are really, really good,” Kiburis said. “They knew us forwards and backwards, it was the same team we played last year and we graduated a couple kids and they got on us right from the start.”
The Lynx had such knowledge of G-R’s scheme because of how often these teams have met, including the Rebels beating North Linn last year in the state semifinals.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck struggled on all sides of the ball, but most noticeably against North Linn’s press, as the Lynx had gone up 12-0 before the Rebels had even attempted a shot.
“The goal was to try to get it across half-court,” Kiburis said. “We didn’t want to give up any points when we were on offense, we were hoping to get it into the half-court and run possessions of 20 or 25 seconds if we could, knowing it would be very, very difficult to do.”
On top of the offense struggling, the Lynx caught fire early on, finishing the game with 13 3-pointers and 33 total baskets made. Senior Ryan Miller did most of the damage, dropping in 31 points with seven makes from 3-point land, while Jake Hilmer finished the night with 18 points and David Seber and Trevor Boge each had 13.
Kiburis said watching their shots fall while his team’s weren’t was heartbreaking, but to the Rebels’ credit they never gave up on the contest.
“Defensively they just shot so well,” Kiburis said in an exasperated tone. “That kind of compounded it because the score got to be such a difference, but they got back there and started playing hard in the second quarter.”
Jackson Kiburis was the only G-R player to reach double figures, finishing with 10 points, while seniors Caden Kickbush, Mason Skovgard and Walker Thede all had nine in the loss.
North Linn head coach Mike Hilmer said the plan was to force the Rebel guards to make plays against the tough Lynx front court, and like they have all season North Linn came out on top.
“We decided to go out and challenge their guards and see if we can create turnovers and fortunately we did,” Hilmer said. “It’s no knock on them, they have a heck of a ball team and we have done that all year to a lot of teams. A lot of people say we don’t play good competition, but I don’t agree with that.”
Though a 44-point loss in the substate finals isn’t exactly how Gladbrook-Reinbeck wanted to go out this season, it was still a good year for the Rebels. They had an uphill battle to begin with, replacing the best player in program history in Joe Smoldt, but G-R still maintained its reputation as a tough team. They finished second in the NICL West Division, second only to an East Marshall team who went undefeated in the regular season, and Kickbush was named NICL West player of the year, filling in Smoldt’s shoes nicely.
Kiburis said he is proud of what this team accomplished, especially considering few people thought this was going to be a good year for Rebel basketball.
“We came in second in our league, and East Marshall is very good, and we played some good teams and we didn’t blow any games,” Kiburis said. “We won all the games we should have won and then we won some that were evenly matched. They have nothing to be disappointed about other than not having a great showing here. They should be proud of what they’ve done and will continue in the other sports.”
Specifically on Kickbush replacing Smoldt as the team leader, Kiburis said Kickbush did an outstanding job stepping into a role vacated by such a great talent, and he made a name for himself in his own right.
“He fulfilled so many different roles, we put him down in the post and he had never really played in the post and he used his talents there,” Kiburis said. “He fulfilled Joe’s role in that. He was a different leader, he was serious. If you see him in school he is comical in fun, walks around with a smile on his face all the time, but he was really serious and he got kids to buy into it and make it important to them.”
Gladbrook-Reinbeck will have another tough task replacing the likes of Kickbush, Thede, Skovgard and Matt Johannsen in the starting lineup next season, a group of kids Kiburis said were “as fun as any group I’ve had,” the cupboard is far from bare for the Rebels.
Kiburis said it’s going to take some effort, but he fully expects to maintain the legacy of G-R basketball next season and for years to come.
“I think this senior class especially took over for a group that had done it for four years previously, and they did it and now we expect these next kids to do it,” Kiburis said. “They love basketball, they are in the gym, they understand the importance of playing hard. They will get in the gym more and we will be a competitive team. Our expectations are always to be at the top of the NICL West and we are going to try, but there is a lot of work to do.”
North Linn 84, Gladbrook-Reinbeck 41
GLADBROOK-REINBECK (18-7) — Walker Thede 3 2-4 9, Matt Johannsen 1 0-0 2, Caden Kickbush 4 1-2 9, Jackson Kiburis 2 6-6 10, Mason Skovgard 4 1-2 9, Tyler Tscherter 0 0-0 0, Eli Thede 1 0-0 2, Colton Clark 0 0-0 0, Dylan Riffey 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 15 10-14 41.
NORTH LINN (26-0) — Jake Hilmer 7 2-3 18, David Seber 5 0-0 13, Ryan Miller 11 2-2 31, Trevor Boge 6 1-2 13, Adam Waskow 1 0-0 2, Austin Miller 0 0-0 0, Brad Pflughaupt 3 0-0 7, Josh Smith 0 0-0 0, Sean Boardman 0 0-0 0, Carter Johnson 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 33 5-7 84.
G-R 12 14 4 11 — 41
N. LINN 31 26 16 11 — 84
3-Point Goals–G-R 1 (Thede), NL 13 (Miller 7, Seber 3, Hilmer 2, Pflughaupt). Total Fouls–G-R 11, NL 14. Fouled Out–none.