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Lady Spartans rebound on the road,

Solon girls hold off West Delaware 49-40

MANCHESTER– Juniors Erin Kerkhoff, Gabby Marty, Taylor Ryan and Abby Smith, along with senior Brianna Smith started, in Manchester, as the Lady Spartans took the court, clad in their charcoal colored travel uniforms, against West Delaware. The Lady Spartans made Christmas special this year, snatching a win from the West Delaware Hawks, 49-40, before the Christmas break on Tuesday, Dec. 19.
Led by Ryan’s season-high 16 points, 12 of the 16 courtesy of shooting 4-7 from beyond the 3-point arc, the Lady Spartans set an early lead by outscoring the Hawks 14-6 in the first quarter. West Delaware rallied a bit in the second quarter, outscoring the Lady Spartans, 11-9, to make the Solon lead 23-17 at the half.
Solon extended the margin in the third quarter, and started the fourth quarter leading 39-30. Each team scored 10 points in the final period for the 49-40 final.
The win gave the Lady Spartans a welcome boost heading into the holiday break and moved Solon to 3-7 for the season. West Delaware dropped to 2-7.
“Taylor hit some big shots in this game that we knew she is capable of making,” Coach Lisa Bishop said. “We need her to handle the ball and play her role of having more assists than turnovers, but anytime they are leaving her open we want to give her that green light to shoot and she capitalized on that on Tuesday!”
Ryan’s 16 points came courtesy of three-pointers, a two-point field goal and two free throws. She also recorded an assist, four rebounds and stole the ball five times. Brianna Smith and Jenna LaDage contributed eight points apiece. Smith sank two of three from outside the arc, amassed four assists, pulled down five rebounds, and stole the ball once. LaDage dropped one from beyond the arc, had one assist, blocked a shot, grabbed two rebounds, and was credited for three steals. Saige Hauer posted six points coming in from the bench, shooting 3-6 from the inside. Marty was held to only five points, but contributed one assist, came up with eight rebounds, blocked a shot and stole the ball twice; Kerkhoff added four points to Solon’s score, had two assists and collected four rebounds; and Abby Smith scored two points and pulled down two rebounds.
The Lady Spartans managed turnovers during the game, limiting themselves to only 18, the lowest total in the last four games.
“It has been a huge point of emphasis in practice but something we know we can’t fix overnight and will take ‘intentionality’ to continue to work on handling the ball, and our passes being on target,” Coach Bishop said. “We need to build our confidence with handling the ball so, when teams do pressure us, we are ready and willing to handle the ball and pass it around in a confident and smart manner.”
Bishop felt the team turned a corner with the win before the holiday break and spoke positively of picking back up in January.
“I think we have hit our stormy part of the season, and we will continue to improve and gel together as a team,” she said. “I am hopeful that our girls will pick up where we left off and, if anything, be better than our last game!”
The team’s focus is on achieving growth every day, she added.
“Every day our goal is to each become one percent better than the day before,” Bishop said. “Our girls are getting better, and I believe have what it takes to reach their maximum potential. That is what I believe is success.”
Upon their return from the holidays, the Lady Spartans head for Mount Pleasant on Thursday, Jan. 4, and continue the road tour to Benton Community in Van Horne on Friday, Jan. 5.
They make their first 2018 appearance on the hardwood of Solon’s gym on Tuesday, Jan. 9, to face Maquoketa. Friday, Jan. 12, Solon continues with the second of a three-game home stand against Mount Vernon, then meet Central Clinton on Tuesday, Jan. 16. The Spartans travel to Epworth to face Western Dubuque on Friday, Jan. 19; return home to face Anamosa on Tuesday, Jan. 23; travel to Dyersville to battle Beckman Friday, Jan. 26; then return home Tuesday, Jan. 30, for Senior Night to host West Delaware. The Lady Spartans finish the final two regular season games on the road in Maquoketa on Friday, Feb. 2, and at Mount Vernon on Tuesday, Feb. 6. All appearances feature a junior varsity game at 6 p.m. with the varsity tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
For Bishop, the change to a full court, transition-oriented style of play this season and the girls’ positive approach are all part of the game.
“Each year has its own set of joys and challenges,” she said. “I’m growing as well, and feel more driven and determined than when I first started. I love our team because they really are driven. We need to continue to work out our execution and confidence playing together as a team!”