Kickbush delivers late, sends Rebels to state semis

Thomas Mussig (third from left) riles up his teammates after Gladbrook-Reinbeck won a Class 1A state quarterfinal against Lynnville-Sully at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Monday morning. (Jake Ryder/The Grundy Register photo)

   DES MOINES – The pain Caden Kickbush felt was unbearable.

   The Gladbrook-Reinbeck boys’ basketball team was about to enter the final quarter of a tight Class 1A state quarterfinal game with Lynnville-Sully, but Kickbush was having trouble breathing after incidentally getting hit hard in the stomach during a particularly aggressive play near the basket.

   State tournament basketball isn’t always pretty, and what came next for Kickbush was no different: he said after he left the court to try and recover, he vomited once he reached the locker room.

   “I just had to get it out of me,” Kickbush said.

   Once that ugliness passed, though, the only thing Kickbush wanted to do was be on the floor.

   “I had to,” he said. “I knew they needed me.”

   Kickbush got back out there, and together with his Rebel teammates, G-R fought off a tough challenge from the Hawks for a 53-50 win at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Monday.

   It will be G-R’s third consecutive appearance in the semifinals. They’ll play top-seeded North Linn at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday.

   Joe Smoldt led all scorers with 29 points and Kickbush added 12 points, with nine of those points coming in the fourth quarter alone.

   It wasn’t easy, but Kickbush was all smiles after a white-knuckle battle.

   “For me, getting (to the semis) is like carrying on the tradition from my brother,” Kickbush said of Camden Kickbush, a first-team all-state selection when G-R won the title in 2015. “He started this and now I just want to keep it going.”

   The full story appears in the March 9 Grundy Register.