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Lady Spartans break Mustangs a second time, 44-34

Holtkamp and LaDage lead Solon over Mount Vernon
Solon sophomore Ava Stebral drives on a Mustang defender during the Lady Spartans' 44-34 triumph over Mount Vernon on Friday, Jan. 24, at Mount Vernon High School. (photos by Crystal Eskelsen)

MOUNT VERNON– Solon sophomore Kaia Holtkamp and senior Jenna LaDage led the Lady Spartans past the Mustangs, 44-34, on Friday, Jan. 24, at Mount Vernon High School, for the second time since December of 2009.
The Lady Spartans built a six-point lead in the first quarter, outscoring the Mustangs, 11-5, and matched Mount Vernon in the second quarter with 10 points apiece, to maintain the six point lead at the half, 21-15. Besting the ‘Stangs by a point in the third, 8-7, Solon entered the final 12 minutes of play leading, 29-22.
“I think anytime you can get out ahead the first quarter it is big,” said Head Coach Jamie Smith. “Mount Vernon picked it up in the second quarter.”
Holtkamp led all scorers for the evening with 13 points, adding six rebounds (two offensive and four defensive) and four assists to her season stats. Jenna LaDage scored 12 points for the Lady Spartans and recorded two assists and two steals. MaKinley Levin, back from a concussion, eased into things scoring nine points, battled for an offensive and a defensive rebound and recorded two assists. Ava Stebral added seven points, two defensive rebounds, an assist, pilfered six steals, and blocked two shots for Solon. Elly Holubar added a three-pointer for the Lady Spartans, pulled down three offensive boards and five defensive, and stole the ball twice. Jada Buffington grabbed a defensive board, added four assists, a steal and a blocked shot to Solon’s stats.
Mustang sophomore McKenzie Rentschler led her team’s scoring with just eight points.
“Jenna (LaDage) shot the ball well,” noted Coach Smith. “Kaia (Holtkamp) again played well on the offensive end. She had a great night passing and hit the boards hard.
“Ava had her best game in a Solon uniform,” he continued. “Especially on the defensive end. Jada Buffington also had a good night passing the ball with four assists.”
Coach Smith was happy to have Levin back on the court.
“Mak (Levin) was able to give us about 20 minutes,” he said. “It was good to have her back.”
The Lady Spartans’ effective field goal percentage was 48.7 percent, sinking 15-39 field goals and 8-23 three-pointers, also dropping 6-16 free throws. The team pulled down 21 rebounds, seven offensive and 14 defensive, while amassing 13 assists, 11 steals and three blocked shots while limiting themselves to just 11 turnovers.
The Mustangs effective field goal percentage was just 25.6 percent, going 9-39 field goal shooting, 2-8 shooting beyond the arc, and shot 14-25 from the charity stripe. Mount Vernon pulled down 33 rebounds, eight offensive and 25 defensive, while recording six assists, five steals and two blocked shots, and committed 24 fouls as a team.
“We are feeling good about the way we are playing on the defensive end,” Coach Smith professed. “Offensively, we need to hit more shots. That will come.”
The win moved the Lady Spartans to 7-7 for the season, a far cry from where Solon was last year, Coach Smith’s first season at the helm, ending at 3-18. The loss dropped Mount Vernon to 5-9.
Pressed to summarize the meaning of the stats this late in the season, Coach Smith placed the progress firmly on the players.
“Says that these kids have worked hard,” he said. “Not just during the season, but a lot of these players have put in countless hours over the summer. Which is what it takes to get to where we want to get to. We just want to keep improving daily and we will go from there.”
Next up, the Lady Spartans traveled to Iowa City Regina for the annual non-conference, Highway 1 rivalry weekend on Saturday, Jan. 26.
Statistics for the article provided courtesy of Quikstatsiowa.com and the Varsity Bound- Iowa High School Sports App on Jan. 26.