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Boys roll past Indee

Bluder scores 21 first-half points against Mustangs

SOLON– It’s easier to win when your opponent doesn’t score.
Solon’s varsity boys’ basketball team racked up 16 steals and forced Independence into 29 turnovers in a lopsided 73-39 victory at home to close out 2020 Tuesday, Dec. 22.
The Spartans have rolled up six straight victories since opening the season with a 61-56 loss at Central DeWitt and now sit at 6-1 (4-0 in the WaMaC Conference East Division).
Solon built a double-digit lead against Independence before the Mustangs could score their first points, and held a 39-21 halftime advantage, thanks in part to a 21-point effort from senior David Bluder.
“He shot the ball well,” noted Solon Head Coach Jared Galpin. “We have some sets to get him or other teammates looks. He got off to a good start.”
Bluder finished with a game-high (and season-high) 27 points on 11-18 shooting.
“David was active all over the floor. He had some easy baskets by running the floor in transition, and he also had two offensive rebounds and put backs,” Galpin said. “In order to score that many points, you have to put yourself in position to score those points by hustling and working hard. David has the ability to score at all three levels.”
Midway through the first period, Bluder put his stamp on the game.
His offensive rebound and put-back made it 13-2, and on the next possession he stole the ball and went coast to coast for two more.
After senior Ben Cusick cleaned the offensive glass and made it 17-4 with a point-blank put-back, Bluder sank a three-pointer and followed it with a drive to the basket for a 22-6 Solon lead.
Independence made a run to close the gap, mostly powered by junior Michael Kascel, who finished the first half with 13 points. The Spartans held Kascel to only four points in the second half.
The Mustangs pulled within seven points in the second quarter, but Solon responded with a pull-up jumper by senior Will Noonan, a breakaway basket by Bluder and back-to-back steals by junior Jake Quillin and senior Bo Janssen for a 39-20 edge.
“A lot of the guys are doing a good job of being in position on defense. That is a big part of it. They have also done a great job of anticipating the passes,” Glapin observed. “Jake Quillin does a great job of applying good ball pressure and he can cover a lot of ground quickly, so he has a knack of getting into passing lanes. Will Noonan does a great job of anticipating passes as well.”
Quillin had five of the team’s 16 steals; Noonan and junior Kinnick Pusteoska each added three.
After holding Independence to 26 first-half points, the Spartans throttled the Mustangs in the second half, allowing only 13 for the opposing team.
“The defensive effort has been there. The outcomes are a result of us getting more familiar with our defensive principles and building our habits,” Galpin pointed out. “We are still a work in progress but all of the guys are making the defensive end a priority and are taking pride in playing defense. Defense is fundamentals and effort.”
Solon limited Independence to 12-37 from the field (32.4 percent).
The Spartans connected on 30 of 55 shot attempts (54.5 percent). Bluder led all scorers, with 10 points from senior Carson Shive and eight points from Pusteoska on 4-5 shooting. Quillin added seven points and Cusick six (3-5) to go with a team-high seven boards. Noonan and Shive each had six assists to pace the Spartans.
“I am happy with where the team is trending going into break,” Galpin commented. “We have work to do when we get back together on the 28th, but all the guys have been working so hard in practice and challenging each other. That has helped each of them grow in their individual games which has made our team better. It's great to see them celebrate their teammate's successes. They are a close group and are a lot of fun to coach.”
The Spartans are scheduled to open the 2021 portion of the season on the road against West Delaware Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, and at conference leader Beckman Catholic Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, but the schedules are subject to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.