REINBECK - A hiccup in defense let Belle Plaine hang around a little longer than the Rebels would've liked, but at the end of the day, the outcome was all that mattered.
The Class 1A fourth-ranked Rebels held on to advance to the District 6 finals with an 89-75 win against Belle Plaine on Tuesday night. Joe Smoldt led the Rebels with 28 points. But it was Brent DeMeulenaere who had 34 points for the Plainsmen (16-7) that helped keep his team right in the thick of it for three quarters.
Head coach Scott Kiburis said defense really let the Rebels down in "one of the worst games defensively" of the year. The 75 points the Rebels gave up were the most to any team this season, and the only time they gave up 70-plus to an opponent.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck senior guard Joe Smoldt (20), shoots a jumper over Belle Plaine defender Garrett Straight (13) during the second half of Tuesday’s Class 1A District 6 semifinal in Reinbeck. Smoldt scored 28 points to lead the fourth-ranked Rebels to an 89-75 win.
PHOTO BY STEPHEN KOENIGSFELD
"We've got to close in on shooters and early in the first half they got a couple second-shot opportunities," Kiburis said. "And even though they have a really good player, Walker [Thede] made him work to earn his points. You can't allow that to happen though. If we're going to be a good team, we're going to be a good defensive team."
Smoldt was accompanied by Caden Kickbush's 24 points and Tyler Pierce's 15. Kickbush was a hybrid player knocking down four 3-pointers but also driving in on Belle Plaine defenders to get three more field goals. The junior was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line as well.
Pierce went inside for his 15, drawing contact when he could, going 1-for-3 at the charity stripe, but getting seven inside shots to fall his way.
The Rebels (22-2) really cold do no wrong on offense, as they charged ahead by 11 points a couple times in the second half. But it was a Matt Roeding jumper that gave the Rebels a 52-48 lead late in the third quarter that allowed G-R to jump out to their final lead and cruise to the district final.
Out of the break and down 11 points, the Plainsmen, led by Garrett Straight and DeMeulenaere's 3-point shooting, hit three consecutive 3-pointers to cut the lead to just 50-48. The two Plainsmen combined for six of the team's seven 3-pointers.
Smoldt had six treys, lead the Rebels from behind the arch. As a team, G-R cashed in 11 3-pointers, with Kickbush's four and Mason Skovgard sinking one in the first half.
"There were a lot more possessions in that game than normal," Kiburis said. "So there were periods of time where we were able to stop them one-and-out and get scores twice in a row."
With the win, the Rebels will see Colo-NESCO from the Iowa Star Conference in Grundy Center on Thursday night, with a trip to the substate final on the line.
Without much scouting to the Royals (16-7) in their win against Hudson on Tuesday night, Kiburis said one thing is for sure if the Rebels want to keep playing.
"We've got to play better defense, obviously," Kiburis said. "We've got to prepare against different types of defenses that we might see. Colo-NESCO is a great defensive team, probably a better defensive team than we saw today. So we can't just take the fact we scored 80-something points for granted. We're going to have to work for the points we're going to get."
Tipoff for the 1A District 6 final is set for 7 p.m. Thursday night. The winner of that match will play the winner of Dunkerton and Wapsie Valley, who play Thursday at 7 p.m. in Parkersburg.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck 89, Belle Plaine 75
BELLE PLAINE (16-7) - Garret Straight 7 1-1 18, Brodie Bohlen 1 0-0 3, Brendon Mantz 3 0-0 6, Brent DeMeulenaere 11 6-6 34, Chance Baburek 4 1-2 9, Joe Eichorn 1 0-0 3, Trevor Straight 1 0-0 2, Kobe Grieder 0 0-0 0, Dylan Frey 0 0-0 0, Caleb Grimes 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 29 8-9 75.
GLADBROOK-REINBECK (22-2) - Walker Thede 1 1-2 3, Caden Kickbush 7 6-6 24, Joe Smoldt 9 4-5 28, Matt Roeding 2 2-2 6, Tyler Pierce 7 1-3 15, Deagan Haack 0 0-0 0, Matt Johanssen 0 0-0 0, Eli Thede 0 0-0 0, Thomas Mussig 2 0-0 4, Jackson Kiburis 0 0-0 0, Mason Skovgard 3 2-2 9, Jed Peterson 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 31 16-20 89.
BELLE PLAINE 18 14 25 18 - 75
G-R 21 22 23 23 - 89
3-Point GoalsBP 8 (G. Straight 3, DeMeulenaere 3, Eichorn, Bohlen), G-R 11 (Smoldt 6, Kickbush 4, Skovgard). Total FoulsBP 20, G-R 13. Fouled OutBohlen, Mantz.