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Lady Spartans defeat Demons at home

Solon downs Washington for 2nd win, 53-46
Saige Hauer, Brianna Smith (obscured), Gabby Marty, Erin Kerkhoff and Jenna LaDage attempt to shut down the lane from the incursion of Demon Isabel Bailey on Saturday, Dec. 2, at Solon High School. The Lady Spartans moved to 2-2 on the season with a 53-46 win over Washington. (photo by Jeff Hess)

Solon Economist
SOLON– Solon’s Brianna Smith returned to the Lady Spartans’ home court on Saturday, Dec. 2, arguably in an effort to wash the bitter taste of the 64-18 loss to Marion the night before from every Solon fan’s memory. Shooting 5-5 from the arc, Brianna Smith led the 1-2 Lady Spartans with 22 points to a 53-46 win over the 1-2 Washington Demons while exorcizing a few from the night before on Saturday, Dec. 2.
“What is so wonderful about this team, is that at any night anyone could have a star performance,” Coach Lisa Bishop commented. “It’s a very balanced team that is unselfish at who is the leading scorer, leading rebounder, etc. They just want to win and have a great experience!”
The win boosted the Lady Spartans to 2-2 on the season.
The night was not without some excitement.
The Lady Spartans were all smiles during introductions before going to work from the opening tip off against the Washington Demons. Solon hit the scoreboard first following a layup from Brianna Smith with a little less than 1:50 expired in the first quarter. The Demons answered with about 4:15 remaining, sinking a three and capturing the lead, 3-2. Erin Kerkhoff pushed the Spartans back out front 4-3 driving for a layup with a little more than 3:30 remaining and Washington answered eight seconds later to make it 5-4. Kerkhoff put Solon back on top with a jump shot, 6-5, at the 2:47 mark and Washington responded 25 seconds later to make it 7-6.
Brianna Smith started her tear, draining her first three-pointer to make it 9-7 with a tick more than two minutes remaining in the first quarter. Washington challenged, tying it up, 9-9, with a minute remaining in the quarter. The Spartans put up another three to lead at the end of the quarter, 12-9. Such was to be the pace for four quarters of basketball.
The second quarter saw the Lady Spartans on the short side, outscored in the quarter 11-10 by the Demons.
However, it was the only quarter Solon would lose that afternoon. Brianna Smith hit another three with a little over a minute gone in the second to ignite the crowd and her teammates. Gabby Marty would make it 17-9 with a jump shot from the paint and the score froze at 20-13.
Washington surged with a seven-point run to tie it up 20-20 with a little over two minutes remaining in the half. Final salvos by both teams kept the half an impasse, 22-22.
The Demons got out in front of the Spartans, 28-25, with almost 2:30 ticked from the clock. With 2:49 glowing on the clock for the third quarter, Solon still trailed, 30-27. Solon went on a run to make it 37-30 until Washington dropped a three just before time would expire in the quarter. Solon led, 37-33, at the end of three.
Saige Hauer pushed the Spartans out to a 43-33 lead with a little less than 6:30 remaining in the game on a basket and subsequent free throws. Jenna LaDage made the Solon lead 45-38 at the 3:46 mark to stop a rally by the Demons.
It became a tight contest as the Demons again knocked on Solon’s door, closing to within three with 2:07 remaining, 46-43.
Marty, with her moniker tongue hooked in the right corner of her mouth, sank a free throw with 1:24 remaining to extend Solon’s lead to seven, 50-43, as the game of fouls began for the Washington Demons. Hauer made it 52-43 on a layup but the Demons knocked once again with 25.7 seconds remaining, closing to 52-46.
Marty sealed the game with a free throw to push the Spartans to 53-46 and Solon’s defense shut the door on the game.
“I knew Bri(anna Smith) is capable of putting up points like that and it was really nice to see her shot fall and being able to get some open looks!” Coach Bishop said. “I was proud to see how she, in particular, decided to really step up and bounce back. I think that shows her leadership, maturity and commitment to this team.”
According to statistics provided by the Solon Lady Spartans basketball team, Brianna Smith led the Spartans with 22 points, including 5-5 from the 3-point range, to go along with three assists, three rebounds, four blocks and a steal. Kerkhoff added 10 points with two assists, nine rebounds and two blocks; Marty posted 10 points as well, with three rebounds and four blocked shots; LaDage contributed seven points with one assist, five rebounds and three steals; and Hauer had four points with two assists, a rebound and three blocked shots. Abby Smith was held scoreless but contributed two assists, led the team with nine rebounds and blocked two shots.
Solon kept turnovers in check only recording 15, less than half of the total amassed just one night before.
“We are trying to get the ball in the paint area for higher percentage shots, so the girls are working hard under there, but our guards need to get some more practice passing in there,” Bishop said. “Our posts always battle and (are) willing to work hard. We did not do a great job finding a body and boxing out (against) Washington. I feel like we gave up far too many offensive rebounds still.”
When asked about the turnaround between the two games, Coach Bishop responded, “We talked both days about us controlling the things we can control. We can’t allow other teams to beat us, we need to continue to gain experience and confidence on the floor by what we do. I was proud of the girls for stepping up on Saturday, realizing it was the most important game of the season, because it was our next one, and making improvements from Tuesday by valuing the ball down the homestretch, defensive positioning, and knocking down (free throws) down the stretch.”
Solon’s schedule allows little time for basking in success. The Lady Spartans traveled to Central Clinton in DeWitt on Tuesday, Dec. 5, and return home Thursday, Dec. 7, to accept the challenge of West Branch and welcome Western Dubuque on Friday, Dec. 8. Solon travels to Anamosa on Tuesday, Dec. 12, and hosts Dyersville Beckman on Friday, Dec. 15. The Lady Spartans’ last game before the Christmas break takes them on the road to Manchester to face West Delaware Dec. 19. All varsity games have a 7:30 p.m. tip-off and are preceded by a junior varsity game prior at 6 p.m.
Asked to expound on the coaching approach to facing so many teams in a two-week period, Coach Bishop emphasized control.
“I think we are still approaching these teams by doing the simple fundamental things that are necessary no matter who we are playing,” she said. “Each game we will give them a few extra keys to that team from scouting them. But it’s about us and controlling the things we can control.”