• warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.
  • warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.

Lady Spartans drop two at home

Solon girls lose in final moments against Maquoketa Cardinals
Solon’s Gabby Marty grapples for a rebound in the paint against nearly the entire Mount Vernon Mustang team on Friday, Jan. 12. The Lady Spartans led at the half but fell behind in the final two quarters, succumbing to the Mustangs, 41-28. (photos by Jeff Hess)

SOLON– The Lady Spartans stumbled the week of Jan. 8-12, dropping a close game on Tuesday, Jan. 9, against the Maquoketa Cardinals, 52-49, in the final minutes and falling short the second half, 41-28, facing Highway 1 rivals the Mount Vernon Mustangs on Friday, Jan. 12.
On Tuesday, Jan. 9, Solon looked ready to resume their winning ways. With a little less than 2:15 remaining in the first quarter, Taylor Ryan had already sank two 3-pointers augmented by scoring by Gabby Marty and Brianna Smith, and Solon led the Cardinals, 12-7. As the first quarter drew to a close, Smith dished the ball to Erin Kerkhoff on a two-on-one fast break and the the Lady Spartans lead was 18-12.
The Lady Spartans leapt to a 26-12 lead with a little over 5:15 remaining in the second quarter following a Ryan delay drive to the hoop for two that drew a foul and added one for the bonus. The Cardinals called a time-out in hopes of sapping the Spartans’ momentum. As the horn sounded for the half, with a final-second Jenna LaDage shot bouncing around the rim, then off, the Solon lead was 29-19.
With just under six minutes remaining in the third, the Lady Spartans were only able to add two as the Cardinals closed the gap, 31-26, and Coach Lisa Bishop called a 30-second timeout in hopes of regaining control. The respite rallied the Ladies and maintained leading, 35-30, with a little over three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Solon maintained its modest lead, but a four-point, one-minute rally by Maquoketa closed the Cardinals to within two points of Solon, 38-36.
Solon clung to a 40-38 lead courtesy of a Brianna Smith layup with 21 seconds before the end the third quarter.
“They came out with a lot more fight and intensity than we did the second half,” coach Bishop said. “Again, we need to get to the point we can play four quarters mentally and physically.”
Solon scored a minute into the fourth to extend its lead 42-38, but Maquoketa responded by draining free throws, 42-40. The fourth quarter became a battle of wills as there were many scrambles and tussles on the floor for loose balls.
A 3-pointer by the Cardinals gave Maquoketa its first lead in the game, 43-42, with a little less than 6:15 remaining in the fourth quarter, but a Ryan 3-pointer 20 seconds later had the Lady Spartans out in front, 45-43. The Cardinals tied the game at 45-45 with 4:35 remaining in the game and took the lead once again with a little more than 3:30 remaining, 47-45. The Cardinals began controlling the pace of the game, stymieing the Lady Spartans and running time off the clock to protect the lead.
Unable to get the upper hand, the Lady Spartans watched their hopes of taking the game into overtime bounce around the rim and fall away like their final 3-point shot. Maquoketa triumphed, 51-49.
Ryan scored 26 points, sinking 5-12 from beyond the arc, with a rebound and a steal, leading the Lady Spartans’ scoring efforts. Kerkhoff added eight points with two assists, a rebound and two steals; Brianna Smith scored six points while racking up six assists, three rebounds and snatching two steals; Marty contributed five points while pulling down 14 rebounds and adding two steals; Abby Smith scored four points with one assist, eight rebounds and three steals; LaDage contributed three assists, six rebounds and two steals; and Saige Hauer, who has seen limited court time since Ryan’s return, pulled down a rebound. Turnovers once again affected the Lady Spartans as they recorded 22.
It appeared during the warm-ups and the first half the Lady Spartans righted the ship on Friday, Jan. 12, when they faced the Mount Vernon Mustangs. Solon bested the Mustangs in the first quarter outscoring them, 13-12, after the Mustangs got out to 2-0 in the first two minutes and Marty started the Spartan scoring with a two-point jump shot. Brianna Smith put the Spartans back out front, 5-4, with a three after as many minutes of play. Ryan made it 8-4 with about 4:20 remaining and pushed it to 10-5 with a drive up the lane about 30 seconds later. A three by Brianna Smith made it 13-5 with a little more than three minutes remaining. Mount Vernon was limited to three scores in the final four minutes of the quarter for a 13-12 Solon lead.
Almost three minutes passed in the second quarter before a jump shot by Marty made the score 15-12 for Solon. Brianna Smith added two less than 15 seconds later, 17-12, before the Mustangs answered with two with just over 4:30 remaining. The half ended with the host Lady Spartans holding a tentative 21-17 lead.
The girls dance team performed at the half and the boys dance team provided a crazy production, literally in the theme of asylum tenants, to be debuted in competition the next day. Both performances were greeted with applause.
Whether a byproduct of the craziness of the halftime dance production, the game took a crazy turn for the Lady Spartans. The Mustangs closed on the Spartans, 21-19, 45 seconds into the third quarter and Solon responded almost two minutes later pushing out 23-19. By the 3:31 mark, the Mustangs rallied to take the lead, 27-23. The game went scoreless until with 56.1 remaining, the Mustangs scored on Solon, then scored again before the horn, capturing the lead, going into the final quarter, 32-24.
Mount Vernon struck first scoring two minutes into the fourth quarter, extending their lead to 34-24. The Lady Spartans struggled with a transparent lid on their basket, adding only four points before the end of the game for a 41-28 loss.
Brianna Smith scored eight points against Mount Vernon, contributing four assists, three rebounds and a steal to lead Solon’s scoring efforts. Ryan scored seven points with an assist, a rebound and a steal; and Abby Smith scored one point while contributing an assist and two rebounds. Marty, LaDage and Kerkhoff each scored four points. Marty pulled down seven rebounds; LaDage had two assists, a rebound and two steals; and Kerkhoff pulled down two rebounds. The Lady Spartans only recorded 16 turnovers in the loss to the Mustangs.
Coach Bishop felt the Mustangs had done their homework. “Credit to Mount Vernon’s defense and an amazing defensive player they have in Sammy Moss to really slow down Ryan on the scoring end and make her make some tough plays,” she said.
“I felt like we came out flat again and maybe even a little exhausted physically,” Bishop said of the second half. “They did a great job, defensively, of locking down and making us play out of rhythm. I felt like we then came a little unglued and stopped trusting each other and tried to individually play hard instead of being tough together. That will be our mantra this week.”
Coach Bishop said the Lady Spartans need to allow the defense to create offense.
“After a great rebound, outlet pass, and transition bucket, that allows us to play at a pace we feel most confident in,” she said.
At the end of Friday’s game, the Lady Spartans were tentative about committing fouls to regain possession of the ball until only 30 seconds remained in the game.
“Mount Vernon is an excellent free throw shooting team. We were hoping to get a steal, but honestly we were yelling at the girls to foul before that, they just had a hard time hearing me,” Bishop commented with a smile. “We will practice end of game situations this week in practice.” 
On Tuesday, Jan. 16, Solon played host to Central Clinton. The Lady Spartans travel to Epworth to face Western Dubuque on Friday, Jan. 19, with a game time of 7:30 p.m.
“We turned the ball over a lot from the first time we played DeWitt and felt like, if we took care of the ball better, we would have won that game. It should be a good match-up on Tuesday,” Bishop commented.
“On Friday, we are at Western Dubuque where, at home, we played in my opinion one of the best halves we played all season,” she said. “But we folded under their pressure. We will come ready to handle that pressure on Friday.”
The Lady Spartans’ remaining regular season games continue on Tuesday, Jan. 23, as Anamosa visits the Spartans at home, followed by a trip to Dyersville to face Beckman Catholic on Friday, Jan. 26. It is Senior Night on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at home, when West Delaware is hosted. The season ends on the road with stops in Maquoketa on Friday, Feb. 2, and Mount Vernon on Tuesday, Feb. 6. All games have a 7:30 p.m. start.
Statistics for the article were provided courtesy of the Lady Spartans’ basketball team.