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Bookend wins

Blazers and Blue Raiders fall to Solon
The Lady Spartans’ Nichole Oberthien attempts to rattle Beckman’s Amber Boeckenstedt while playing defense during the Friday, Jan. 29, game in Dyersville. (photo by Jeff Hess)

SOLON– The Lady Spartans varsity team welcomed the Anamosa Blue Raiders to their home court on Tuesday, Jan. 26, and did just what they had to do. Solon defeated the Blue Raiders, 40-34, and sent them north with a loss.
The varsity Lady Spartans were up by six points in just over a minute of play through the combined efforts of Dakota Doyle, Bryce Hinkel and Hannah Bluder. Anamosa’s coach quickly called a time-out to have an animated conversation with the Raiders’ varsity squad that reverberated in the gymnasium.
The Lady Spartans worked their way steadily to a 20-7 lead at the end of the first period.
The Blue Raiders held Solon to only five points in the second, narrowing the gap with the score 25-15 at the half.
A defensive struggle was the story in the third, as Anamosa scored only seven points but held Solon to just four points. The score at the end of three showed Solon leading, 28-23.
It was a sprint to the finish with the crowd from both teams reaching a crescendo with their respective team’s success. The Lady Spartans maintained their composure and wound down the clock with a pass behind the back from Josie Durr to Nichole Oberthien, who passed it quickly to Nicol, just ahead of Raiders seeking to foul to get the ball back. She held the ball as the final seconds ticked their way to Solon’s victory, 40-34.
Bluder led all Solon scorers with 15 points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals. Oberthien put up seven points, grabbed eight rebounds, an assist, and a steal while Doyle added six points, wrangled eight rebounds, and added five assists. Durr and Sydney Lawson added four points apiece while Durr had three rebounds, four assists and five steals, and Lawson contributed two rebounds and an assist. Hinkel and Nicol added two apiece with Hinkel grabbing four rebounds.
The evening started with a junior varsity (JV) exhibition. The Lady Spartans, led by the scoring of Brianna Smith and Sophie Nicol– both with nine points each– defeated Anamosa’s squad, 29-21. Smith had an assist, three rebounds, and a steal while Nicol had four steals. Lexi Stebral put up four points, eight rebounds, and two steals followed by three players with two points each; Gabby Marty, Sam Miller, and Julia Devalk. Marty grabbed four rebounds and four steals, Miller had an assist and two rebounds, and Devalk had seven rebounds and two steals.
On Friday, Jan. 29, as has become all to common, the Lady Spartans put on their travel gear and took to the road visiting Dyersville to compete against the Beckman Blazers and grab another road win.
Early in the week, Coach Lisa Bishop circulated a letter to the team and parents reminding everyone of the psychology of long seasons like high school basketball, and the pratfalls associated with the pressure and travel. She urged the players to “Don’t be selfish about anything. Finish strong!... Come together Lady Spartans.”
Her call was heard by the varsity team, and once again, the Lady Spartans did just what they needed to win the game.
An up-and-down the court exchange in the first period yielded a Solon lead, 10-8. The Lady Spartans stretched their lead to 10 at the half, 19-9. The Blazers went on a 10-point tear, tying the score at 19 with 5:15 remaining in the third period, testing the resolve of the Lady Spartans.
Solon held Beckman scoreless the rest of the quarter, holding a 26-19 lead going into the fourth.
Solon stretched its lead at the start of the fourth, making it 32-21 with 5:52 remaining in the game. But the Blazers tried to find a away, closing to within three, and Solon led 34-31 with 50.9 seconds remaining in the game. The Lady Spartans did what they had to in the final seconds, as Durr sank free throws when the Blazers resorted to fouling.
Lawson held the ball above her head, and the horn sounded as the Lady Spartans closed the door on Beckman Catholic, 38-33.
Taylor Ryan led the Solon scorers with eight points, followed by Lawson and Durr with seven points each, Doyle and Hinkel had six points apiece, and Bluder scored four points. Doyle pulled down seven rebounds with an assist and a steal, and Oberthien wrestled away four rebounds, adding two steals and an assist. Hinkel grabbed four rebounds with an assist and a steal, and like-a-thief Durr managed to lift four steals, grabbed three rebounds and had two assists. Lawson collected three rebounds and an assist.
In pre-game action, the Lady Spartan JV squad was able to hold on as the Blazers tried to impose their will in the final quarter of the game to win, 39-26.
Nicol led Solon’s scorers with eight points, followed by Ryan (6), Erin Kerkhoff, Lexi Stebral, Brianna Smith, Mallory Miller (all with 4 points), Julia DeValk (3), Sam Miller (3) and Gabby Marty(2). Nicol grabbed three steals, Ryan had five steals, Kerkhoff pulled down two rebounds with three steals, Stebral snatched two rebounds with two steals, DeValk muscled her way to two rebounds, Sam Miller had two rebounds and two steals, and Marty fought for four rebounds.
The Lady Spartans’ Senior Night was scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 2, against West Delaware, but the game was postponed due to weather. Solon travels to Maquoketa on Friday, Feb. 5, to meet the Cardinals, who Solon defeated Jan. 12, 51-32. A short trip to Mount Vernon awaits on Monday (an adjusted date), Feb. 8, in hopes of a little revenge against the Mustangs, who served Solon a 62-46 loss Jan. 15. Solon takes to the road to meet West Delaware in Manchester on Thursday, Feb. 11, in a make-up for the postponed first meeting in January. All games sport a JV match-up starting at 6 p.m. and varsity tipping off at 7:30 p.m.
The postseason bracketing has been released and Solon meets Anamosa on Saturday, Feb. 13, with tip-off slated for 7 p.m. in Solon. Solon defeated Anamosa twice during the regular season.