If basketball were a boxing match, Saturday’s State 2B boys championship at the Arena was the heavyweight showdown of the year.
Headlined by heavy hitters Tennessee Rainwater and Kelson Gebbers, the top-seeded Davenport Gorillas and the No. 5 Brewster Bears proved their worth as top teams in the classification with an entertaining back-and-forth championship game to conclude the 2023 season.
And after 32 minutes, Davenport was on the winning end of an historical run.
Rainwater scored 24 points – 20 in the second half – and the Gorillas completed a comeback to remember, besting the Bears in the final minutes by a score of 65-58 to earn the school’s first boys 2B basketball title in its third trip to the finals and first since 2009.
“This is what I worked for,” Rainwater said. “This is what we went through with all the adversity. It was all in God’s plan. To have the supporting crew and all my teammates telling me everything is going to be okay, we’ve created a brotherhood that’s going to last forever.”
Although Rainwater finished with his fairly typical stat line – 24 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot – he took a tough route to get there, with just four points in the first half as Davenport trailed early and Brewster keyed its defense on the Northwest 2B MVP.
Davenport got down by as much as nine in the first half, but Rainwater heated up in the third to spur the comeback. The Gorillas scored on their first possession in the fourth, when coach Matt Henry called for a backdoor screen for his star, which started a 13-point fourth quarter for the senior.
“It was about patience,” Henry said. “(Brewster) had a great game plan. They did a great job of limiting where he wanted to touch it and sort of dictating what we wanted to do. But we just kept on.”
The Gebbers brothers did everything they could to keep the Bears title hopes alive. Cort, who finished with 14 points, made one from distance and Kelson, who finished with 23 points, continued to drive into the paint over the final minutes.
It stayed close until the end, but Davenport guard Jaeger Jacobsen (10 points) hit four consecutive free throws inside of 30 seconds left to seal the deal for the Gorillas.
The first quarter saw the teams trade punches – Brady Wulf got things going for the Bears, scoring seven points, while Davenport’s Brenick Soliday countered with five.
“Obviously as a coach, you want to get to 20 and cruise,” Henry said. “But this is the state championship game and that’s not going to happen.”
Davenport trailed after the first period down 18-13. The offensive woes continued in the second after Rainwater was called for a charge, fueling the Brewster bench and crowd with more energy.
Cash Colbert connected on a jumper to end Davenport’s scoring drought and Rainwater had a huge block on Gebbers, leading to a transition 3 the other way from Soliday, who had 12 of his 17 points in the first half to keep the Gorillas within reach.
Rainwater, guarded by Gebbers most of the half, started the game 0 for 7.
“We knew it was going to be a tough matchup with Tennessee defensively,” Soliday said. “Gebbers is a great player. We knew we had to step it up other ways and I knew I needed to be one of them to step up.”
Momentum seemed to swing to the Gorillas, but a 3 from Cort Gebbers bounced two times on the rim and went through to put Brewster ahead 31-28 at the half.
Brewster opened the second half with another 3 from Reese Vassar to push the lead to six. Soliday, again, responded from behind the arc with his fourth 3.
Then it became the heavy-hitter show.
Rainwater found his touch in the third quarter with a drive and spin lay-up, followed by a steal and finger roll. Two possessions later, he knocked down his first 3-point shot and put the Gorillas ahead 43-42 going into the final period.