Redhawks defense improving, not enough to stop Rebels

North Tama starting guard Gabe Kopriva (1) heads toward the basket against G-R on Dec. 21. Kopriva put up 15 points for the Redhawks against the Rebels in their final game before winter break. Photo by Noah Rohlfing

A slow first quarter did nothing to halt Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s progress during the Tuesday, Dec. 21 non-conference matchup with North Tama, as the Rebels claimed victory 73-39 over the Redhawks in the final game before the winter break.

G-R (8-0) scored just 12 points in the first quarter, thanks in part to some strong defense from the Redhawks. But on the other end of the court, G-R’s changing defenses and pressure put North Tama (3-5) into a tailspin offensively.

Head coach Alex Tagtow said the Redhawks were forced to think too much about their passes when on offense, which led to turnovers and missed opportunities to score.

“We just really struggled to get it going,” Tagtow said. “Our pace wasn’t good enough and we were a little confused, they were changing defenses between zone and man, they just kinda confused us and we were stagnant. That was really our issue.”

The Redhawks scored three points in the first quarter and 13 points in the first half, with G-R opening up a 34-13 lead and putting North Tama in a position where it had to push to mount a comeback.

This meant more opportunities for G-R on the offensive end of the floor, and with William Kiburis having gotten the Rebels going in the second quarter with back-to-back threes, they continued to find their spots and make shots. Tristen Sanford-Anders scored 15 points and showed his improved passing ability, at times combining well with William on the interior.

G-R head coach Scott Kiburis said William’s increased height has allowed him to play more in the paint and form a good understanding with Sanford-Anders while dictating the offense in an unorthodox way.

“[William] is still our point guard, but he plays a lot of interior offense,” Scott said. “They have passed the ball really well to each other interiorly to get us shots inside.

Kind of an unnatural point guard, William, in the sense that he’s orchestrating scoring opportunities from the inside out instead of from the outside in like you see a lot of times.”

Luke Riffey got in on the action with 13 points and three 3-pointers.

North Tama’s offense got back on track in the second half thanks to baskets from Gabe Kopriva (15 points) and Devin McKinley (12 points) — each of them hitting two 3-pointers — as well as 10 points from Thomas Hulme inside. But too often the Redhawks would score on one end only for G-R to find a basket in the next possession.

It’s now five straight losses for the Redhawks heading into the winter break, which Tagtow sees as a needed chance for the team to get back to full strength.

“It’s been kind of a rotating door,” Tagtow said. “We need the break to get health.”

The Redhawks will return to the hardwood on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022 in a home game against Clarksville. Tipoff is at 7:45 p.m. in the Redhawks Nest.