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Fourth quarter surge, 65-58

Spartans close out 2017 with wins over West Delaware, Keokuk
Solon’s Jackson Pipolo drives the lane and draws a crowd before dishing off to Cam Miller for a layup during the fourth quarter of a 65-58 win over West Delaware Dec. 19 in Solon. (photo by Doug Lindner)

Solon Economist
SOLON– Trailing by four points heading into the fourth quarter, the Spartans needed some defensive stops and they got them.
Solon’s varsity boys seized control in the final minutes of the basketball game to defeat West Delaware, 65-58, at home Dec. 19.
The Spartans held the Hawks to just seven points in the final eight minutes after being down 51-47 at the end of the third.
West Delaware still held a 53-52 lead with just over four minutes remaining and began to milk the clock, but sophomore A.J. Coons caught a long lead pass on a fast break, took the contact and finished at the rim for a traditional three-point play and a 55-53 Solon lead the Spartans would not relinquish.
Coons led all scorers with 29 points on 10-14 shooting from the field, including 2-3 from behind the 3-point line. He was 7-10 at the free throw line and added five rebounds and two steals.
“I kind of rolled the dice,” Solon Head Coach Jason Pershing of his decision to stick Coons defensively on West Delaware’s leading scorer, junior Derek Krogmann. “I think it helped him offensively while guarding at a high level.”
With the lead in hand, the Spartans clamped down on defense.
Sophomore Cam Miller came up with a big defensive rebound and with a little more than two minutes to play it was Solon’s turn to slow things down.
But they didn’t stop.
Junior Jackson Pipolo drove the lane, attracted attention and dished down low where Miller was cutting back door for an easy two points and Solon had extended its lead to 57-53.
“Without a shot clock, you have the opportunity to take control,” Pershing said of the delay game. “You really have to have the personnel to control the tempo of the game. I have five or six guys I trust with the ball.”
Pipolo sank two free throws and came up with a steal and a breakaway basket to make it 61-53 with less than a minute remaining.
Senior Ben Krutzfeldt and Miller each sank a pair of free throws to seal the win in the final seconds.
Miller finished the game with 12 points on 4-7 shooting. Senior Luke Ira added 10 points, including 2-3 from 3-point range. As a team, the Spartans shot 43 percent from the field, 46 percent from the 3-point line and 81 percent at the charity stripe (21 of 26, while limiting West Delaware to only 11 trips to the line).
Miller, a facet on the sophomore team last season, helped provide a competitive spirit for the team while Ira was on the injured list, Pershing said.
The starting quarterback for the varsity football team, Miller made a quick transition to the hard court.
“They lost to Xavier on Thursday, and he was in the gym shooting with his dad on Saturday,” Pershing said. “It takes a special kid to move from one sport to the other and compete.”
The Spartans finished 2017 with a 55-37 road win against Keokuk Saturday, Dec. 23.
Despite the Chiefs’ one-win record, Pershing said he was concerned about a let-down on a long road trip on a Saturday when no one else was playing. “I wanted to make sure we didn’t lay an egg,” he said.
Coons scored 18 points to lead the team, while Krutzfeldt added 13.
“We held them off when they made a run,” Pershing said. “It was a nice way to finish 2017.”
Solon resumes its regular season schedule at home Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, hosting Benton Community, then hits the road for four straight, starting Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, at Maquoketa.
“I really like where we’re at,” Pershing said of his squad’s 6-2 record. “I’ve got a great group of guys.”