10 Years Ago: Iowa High School Teams Set National Scoring Record
A decade ago, two Iowa high school girls basketball teams played a game for the ages.
The outcome of the match-up between Gladbrook-Reinbeck and West Marshall of State Center didn't determine a North Iowa Cedar League championship, nor did it change the teams' positions in the conference standings. What the game did do was create an indelible memory for those who played in it, coached in it, or saw it.
The game is the only one of its kind ever played in the United States.
On Monday, Feb. 7, 2011, Gladbrook-Reinbeck defeated the Trojans 122-118 in double-overtime. The 240 combined points set the national scoring record, surpassing the 222 combined points that two Mississippi teams scored on Dec. 7, 2004, when Boonville Thrasher defeated Wheeler 113-109.
The scoring record that Gladbrook-Reinbeck and West Marshall established still stands 10 years later, although two Minnesota teams combined for 237 points in a 2013 game.
Bruce Bailey guided the Rebels to that memorable victory. Now retired from coaching but still teaching at Gladbrook-Reinbeck, he recalls nearly every aspect of what happened that night in Reinbeck.
"It was quite game," Bailey said. "It started out fast. Lauren Bengen (a senior) got a lay-up and was fouled right away. She put three points up and it just kept rolling from there.
"West Marshall was a good, athletic team with a good record. They were able to run up and down the floor with us, which is what we wanted to do. We wanted to push the ball, get a shot up, and put as much pressure on the other team as we could. It got going. Nobody really gained a big lead all through the ballgame."
Regulation ended in a 98-98 tie. The score was even at 108-all after the first overtime, which, at the time, would have tied for third on the list of highest combined points on the national list.
The teams kept battling into a second overtime.
"Paige Thompson (a junior) came out, dropped a couple of threes for us and hit a couple of free throws," Bailey said. "That was big for us. We were able to outlast them and get that victory.
"It's a game that I'll never forget," Bailey said. "I've never been involved a game like that -- before or after."
Bailey was asked if, during the game, there was any time when he thought history was being made.
"I never even thought about it during the game; I hadn't thought of any sort of records. We were just trying to win the ballgame," Bailey said. "When somebody came up to me (afterward) and said that may be a national record, I thought 'that would be pretty cool for the kids and for girls basketball. They were excited about it. It's an accomplishment they can look back on in later years and say to their kids, that's the game we played in.' It was just a lot of fun for everyone in the gym that night.
"It was good for girls basketball in the state of Iowa at that time. Bailey said. "It was one of those things that I probably won’t see again in my lifetime.
Bailey implemented "The System" offense that season, a hockey-style of play that encourages players to take three-point shots on fast breaks, rotates units of players in and out of games in shifts, and score rapidly -- all while scrambling for turnovers with a frantic, full-court pressing defense.
The box score shows six players scored in double-figures for Gladbrook-Reinbeck, with five tallying more than 16 points. Four West Marshall players had at least 15 points.
Hailee Halverson had a remarkable night for the Trojans, scoring 36 points and grabbing 18 rebounds (both career bests). The West Marshall junior came off the bench to record what might be the best double-double in state history. Halverson made 18 of her 22 shots (82%), but ironically went 0-for-6 from the free throw line.
"It was pretty draining, there’s no doubt about it," Bailey said. "I don’t think anybody had a lot of energy left (afterward). The adrenaline was carrying us in the locker room, but the kids were having a lot of fun."
For the next several days, Bailey was interviewed by multiple national media outlets that called to ask about the game. Today, it's a topic he's still asked about or that's brought up in conversations.
"I hear about it once in a while, usually from people around Reinbeck," Bailey said. "Some of the kids that played, I see them once in a while -- or the parents -- so, it’s brought up. It’s a pretty cool thing for G-R."
Although West Marshall didn't win the game, it's a pretty cool thing for the Trojans too.
Like winning a championship, both schools have made sure the game isn't forgotten. Each of them have a plaque in their trophy case to keep the memories of that night alive.
Sources: National Federal of State High Schools (NFHS) Record Book, Varsity Bound Iowa