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After eight years, Lady Spartans best Marion, 55-43

Claire LaDage shoots a three-pointer during the first half of Solon's 55-43 victory over the Marion Indians on Tuesday, Dec. 15, at home.

SOLON– “Marion is Marion,” said Lady Spartan Head Basketball Coach Jamie Smith.
For the first time since the Solon girls’ varsity basketball team defeated the Marion Indians, 64-50, on Feb. 13, 2013, the Lady Spartans summited that lofty precipice again.
The Lady Spartans bested the defending WaMaC East Division champion Marion Indians, 55-43, on Tuesday, Dec. 15, at home. It was Solon’s third straight win since opening the season 1-2, and includes a win over 3A’s fifth-ranked Center Point-Urbana, catapulting them to the top of the East Division standings with a 4-1 record.
The game started as many anticipated with Marion building an early 8-3 lead and extending it to 14-7, with a little over 1:30 remaining in the first. Solon adjusted, implementing a defense that would allow just 14 points in the next 17 minutes of game play and limiting Marion to a Sadie Stuchen three-pointer at the buzzer, elevating Marion to a 17-15 lead at the end of one period.
The Lady Spartans’ staunch defense plagued Marion in the second quarter. With a little over 6:45 remaining, Jada Buffington dropped a three-pointer to give Solon a 20-17 lead, from there the tenacity of the offense and the relentlessness of the defense combined to maintain the three-point lead at halftime, 29-26.
The Indians started the third quarter with the ball, but a little less than two minutes into the third quarter, they found themselves trailing 34-26, following Callie Levin driving for two while drawing a foul and dropping the and-one. The Indians’ coach called a timeout to prevent turning over the ball trapped in the corner by a bothersome and unrelenting Lady Spartan defense. Marion drew closer, but still trailed 34-29 with just under 5:45 remaining in the third. Lady Spartan Hillary Wilson put Solon further out front, dropping back-to-back layups for a 38-29 lead.
After a Marion rebound-put-back, Solon shut down the Indians for the rest of the quarter and padded the lead to 11-points for a 49-31 margin at the end of three. The Lady Spartans’ half-court defense pressured the Indians, and Wilson grabbed two steals providing layups.
Solon’s pressure defense, rapid transitions and speed during the fourth quarter increased the lead and ended a seven-game drought against the Indians, 55-43, as the final buzzer sounded.
Head Coach Jamie Smith commented following the game it was a big win for the team and he was looking forward to seeing the Lady Spartans atop the WaMaC East standings, but still had the most respect in the world for the Indians.
“Marion is still Marion,” he said. “They have a ton of talent and we know they will be a different team when it comes time to play them in January. We just tried to stay focused on what was going on.
“Defensively, we picked up the pressure when it was 12-5 Marion and things just kept getting better all the way around,” Smith continued. “I would say it was one of the better wins we have had the past three years, from an overall perspective.”
Coach Smith praised the Lady Spartans’ play on both ends of the court and praised the Indians’ early offense.
“I think early they did a good job running their offense,” he commented. “They did a good job getting the ball inside. Not for sure where their breaking point was, but our defense for the last 20 minutes wore on them.”
The Lady Spartans, as a team, sank 20 of 50 field goals, 40 percent; just three of 15 from three-point range, 20 percent; and sank 12 of 14 from the charity stripe, 85.7 percent. They pulled down 32 rebounds, 11 offensive and 21 defensive, and amassed 10 assists, 15 steals and four blocked shots. As a team, they limited themselves to 19 turnovers and 16 fouls (stats courtesy of ia.varsitybound.com Dec. 20).
Solon outscored Marion 34-14 in the second and third quarters to guarantee the win.
Coach Smith pointed out the Lady Spartans remained focused during the timeouts during the second and third quarters.
“We try to get what we need to say done quick during the timeouts,” he explained. “I wouldn't say anything was different this game. They (the girls) were locked in.”
Callie Levin led Solon’s scoring with 20 points. MaKinley Levin added 11 and Wilson 10.
“Hilary (Wilson) had a very good game and was lights out (in) the third quarter,” Coach Smith praised. “Kaia (Holtkamp) played another great floor game. Callie (Levin) did a great job on defense and found a lot of teammates in transition. Mak (Levin) had one of her best games as a Spartan.”
Sadie Struchen led Marion with 17 points as the Indians shot roughly 33 percent from the field.
Coach Smith said the Lady Spartans remain focused on the whole season when asked if a moment would be taken to bask in the win.
“Need to keep getting better,” Coach Smith responded. “We really don't talk about winning. We talk about getting better and competing.”
The loss moved the Indians to 1-2 on the season.
The Lady Spartans remain all business this season, according to Coach Smith, but he was also quoted immediately following the victory as saying every game is important but this was a big win for the program.
“Our locker room is rocking right now,” he said.
Coach Smith said the Lady Spartans want to be in the same conversation with Marion.

Statistics from Solon 55, Marion 43 on Dec. 15:
Points- Callie Levin 20, MaKinley Levin 11, Hilary Wilson 10, Kaia Holtkamp 7, Claire LaDage 4, Jada Buffington 3.
Rebound (Off./Def.)- LaDage 8 (3/5), MaKinley Levin 8 (3/5), Elly Holubar 5 (2/3), Callie Levin 4 (1/3), Holtkamp 3 (2/1), Ava Stebral 2 (0/2), Alex Locke 1 (0/1).
Assists- Buffington 2, Callie Levin 2, Wilson 2, Holtkamp 1, Holubar 1, Mak Levin 1, Stebral 1.
Steals- Holtkamp 4, Stebral 3, Callie Levin 2, Wilson 2, Holubar 1, Mak Levin 1, Sophia Stahle 1.
Blocks- Callie Levin 3, Stahle 1.