Gladbrook-Reinbeck junior Colton Dinsdale reacts after committing a foul against Earlham on Thursday, March 12, 2015, at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.
Earlham pushed and pulled the top-ranked team in Class 1-A throughout Thursday’s morning semifinal.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck would not be moved.
In their first state tournament trip, the Rebels are headed to the championship game after fending off feisty Earlham 60-45.
“We thought they were a lot like us and we were pretty spot-on,” Earlham senior Alan Schmidt said. “They were just a little quicker, a little bigger, and they knocked shots down.”
Gladbrook-Reinbeck (27-0) spread the floor for its skilled offensive players and a hungry Cardinal defense followed, hustling to drag out drives and seeking a semifinal win in its first tournament appearance. Sophomore guard Joe Smoldt scored a game-high 20 points for the Rebels, earning his keep in a game that was contested in single digits until the final two minutes.
The final margin was Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s largest lead of the game.
“We don’t necessarily want to play that slow, but Earlham’s zone defense extended out well and played really hard,” Gladbrook-Reinbeck coach Scott Kiburis said. “It ended up allowing us to keep our legs on the defensive end and get stops when we needed them.”
All the Earlham (24-3) effort on the defensive end eventually meant tired legs on offense. Schmidt led the Cardinals with 17 points, but many of his teammates’ shots frustratingly fell off the rim or bounced out.
The team shot just 32.6 percent from the field, and Gladbrook-Reinbeck turned the ball over just five times.
“Any time you have to play a 32-minute defensive game, it makes the offense tougher and the legs aren’t necessarily there because it’s hard to find a place to take a break,” Earlham coach Kevin Williamson said. “They worked hard.”
Earlham junior Canyon Hopkins had 14 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Zach Pierce added bulk and presence to the post, forcing Hopkins and other Earlham drives away from the basket.
The Cardinals would get no closer than six points in the fourth quarter.
“The stats were very similar coming in, but we just didn’t make shots,” Williamson said. “Can’t fault what the guys did on the floor.”
Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s first championship game is set for 6 p.m. Friday. The Cardinals play another early fixture, the 1-A consolation game, at 10 a.m. on Friday.
EARLHAM (45)— Algreen 2, A. Schmidt 17, Leporte 4, Hopkins 14, Schreck 4, D. Schmidt 4. Also played—Hensley, Williamson. Totals 15-46 13-14.
GLADBROOK-REINBECK (60)— Kickbush 13, Dinsdale 3, Smoldt 20, Pierce 14, Clark 10. Also played—Roeding, Holman. Totals 19-43 19-25.
Earlham…8 12 8 17—45
G-Reinbeck…12 15 11 22—60
3-point goals—Earlham 2 (A. Schmidt), Gladbrook-Reinbeck 3 (Smoldt 2, Kickbush). Fouls—Earlham 17, Gladbrook-Reinbeck 12.
Maple Valley/Anthon-Oto 59, Danville 57
Maple Valley/Anthon-Oto senior Shawn Flanigan broke through the Danville defense for a game-winning layup as time expired in Thursday’s Class 1-A semifinals.
After drawing a charging foul on the second-ranked Bears (26-1) with six seconds remaining, MVAO drove the length of the floor with a pass to Flanigan to set up a 59-57 victory.
“It’s the way it’s supposed to be at the state tournament,” Danville coach Ken Laffoon said. “It’s supposed to be tight and close and every mistake hurts like you’ve just been sucker-punched.”
The Rams (26-1) relinquished an 11-point second-half lead and trailed Danville 57-55 until senior Derrik Kerns stole an inbounds and scored with 22 seconds left. Flanigan’s basket put MVAO in its first state title game since 1981, when Maple Valley finished as runner-up.
“Our kids are mentally tough,” MVAO coach Brian Brown said. “We haven’t been in a lot of situations like that, but they know how to compete and they didn’t panic and made several plays when they had to.”
Kerns finished with a game-high 21 points and Flanigan added 19. Senior Connor Hoelzen scored 18 points to pace the Bears, who were making their fourth semifinal visit in the last five years.
MVAO will play top-ranked Gladbrook-Reinbeck in the 1-A championship at 6 p.m. on Friday.
MVAO (59)— Hazard 5, Kerns 21, Flanigan 19, Kuhlmann 10, O’Neal 2, De la Garza 2. Also played—Collins. Totals 23-47 9-9.
DANVILLE (57)— Speer 5, Sanchez 5, Jackson 12, Hoelzen 18, Peebler 14, Haeffner 3. Also played—Lorber, Deggendorf. Totals 20-42 16-21.
MVAO…18 13 18 10—59
Danville…17 15 12 13—57
3-point goals—MVAO 4 (Flanigan 3, Hazard), Danville 1 (Speer). Fouls—MVAO 16, Danville 17. Fouled out—O’Neal.