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Solon girls move to 5-13

Losses to Anamosa at home and Dyersville on the road
Solon senior Brianna Smith plays strong defense against Blue Raider Taylor Zumbach during the Lady Spartans’ 46-25 loss to Anamosa on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

DYERSVILLE– The week was not kind to the Lady Spartan varsity basketball team, which dropped two games the week before Senior Night, falling to 5-13 for the season.
On Tuesday, Jan. 23, Solon hosted a game against the Anamosa Blue Raiders who marched over them, 46-25, and then on Friday, Jan. 26, the Lady Spartans succumbed, on the road, in Dyersville, to the Beckman Catholic Blazers, 46-32.
In Solon, on Tuesday, Jan. 23, Anamosa took the lead a little more than 1:10 into the game on a two-point shot by the Raiders’ Anika Brehm and a few minutes later the lead was extended to four. A little less than 3:55 remained in the first quarter, Brehm sank another bucket to extend the Blue Raiders lead to six. 16 seconds later, the lead was eight, stemming from successful free throws. The Lady Spartans’ Jenna LaDage broke the seal on the basket for Solon, with a little over 1:50 remaining in the first quarter, to make the score 10-2. Solon junior Erin Kerkhoff was fouled and sent to the line, dropping in one, with a little over 1:15 left to make the score, 12-3. A rebound put-back with 35 seconds remaining by Gabby Marty made the score 13-5. A half-court Hail Mary by Brianna Smith, driving down the court just a tick before the clock expired, fell just shy and Solon was down eight points to start the second period.
The second quarter favored Solon as Saige Hauer added two, closing the Lady Spartans to within six, 13-7, with a little less than 1:30 run off the clock. Marty deposited another bucket to trail by four at about the 5:15 mark and Brianna Smith broke away for a quick score to bring the Spartans within two with a little more than 4:25 remaining in the half. With 4:20 remaining, the Raiders responded to make the score 15-11 and made it 18-11 just 40 seconds later. A LaDage jump shot, from just outside the lane, brought Solon back to within five, 18-13. With 42 seconds remaining, the Raiders made the score 20-13 and a free throw by Marty with 23 seconds on the clock made it 20-14. As the seconds ticked away just before the end of the quarter, LaDage drained a bucket from inside the lane to put the Lady Spartans within four at the half, 20-16.
The scoreboard also revealed what appeared to be a physical half, with 10 team fouls for Solon and only five for Anamosa.
The Blue Raiders came out strong to start the third quarter, breaking out to a 24-16 lead in less than 50 seconds. The Raiders would extend the lead to 30-16 before a fast break by Taylor Ryan with a dish to Kerkhoff at the basket for a layup made it 30-18. A layup by Ryan made the point difference 10 with a little more than 2:45 left. A three-pointer by Anamosa with about a minute remaining made the score 33-20. Ryan broke down the court for another two with five seconds remaining in the quarter, cutting the lead to 33-22.
Less than 30 seconds into the final eight minutes of the game, the Raiders once again expanded the lead, 35-22. Following a pair of free throw by the Raiders with a little less 2:30 remaining in the game, the score was 40-25 and the Lady Spartans’ physical play had them 10-2 ahead in the team foul category, putting Anamosa in the driver’s seat in regards to playing keep-away to run the clock out. At the 1:40 mark, Anamosa extended its lead, 42-25. The Lady Spartans avoided fouling in the remaining time and fell to the Anamosa Blue Raiders, 46-25.
The Lady Spartans limited themselves to only 19 turnovers against Anamosa but a lid on the basket kept them from capitalizing. Solon shot 47 percent (10-21) from inside the arc but was only 1-18 (5 percent) from 3-point range.
LaDage led the team in scoring with six points with three rebounds and a steal. Both Brianna Smith and Marty finished the game with five points apiece; Smith with an assist, two rebounds and five steals, and Marty with an assist, eight rebounds, and a steal. Ryan was limited to just four points and had three assists, two rebounds and two steals, while Kerkhoff added three points, an assist, two rebounds, and a steal. Hauer had two points and two rebounds and Abby Smith contributed an assist, five rebounds and a steal.
“I felt like we played very fatigued during the second half of the game,” Coach Lisa Bishop said of the game. “I felt like most of our fouls came because we were not in proper position.”
The road was not much kinder to the Lady Spartans on the road at Dyersville Friday, Jan. 26, shooting 38 percent (10-26) inside and once again struggling beyond the arc, 2-19.
The Lady Spartans kept it close and interesting during the first half. Solon edged out Beckman Catholic, 7-6, in the first quarter. At the half, the Lady Spartans trailed by one, 14-13, and in the third Solon was down by just four, 27-23. The cart and wheels took separate avenues in the final quarter for Solon, outscored 19-9, for a final score of 46-32.
LaDage led the scoring charge once again for Solon with nine points, accruing four rebounds, an assist, and two steals. Brianna Smith scored eight points, pulled down 13 rebounds and stole the ball twice; Kerkhoff had five points with two assists, three rebounds and a steal; Abby Smith contributed four points with one rebound and a steal; Marty was limited to just three points and four rebounds; and Ryan had one bucket and two steals. Hauer had an assist, two rebounds and two steals. Turnovers played a factor as the Spartans had 22.
“Every time (at) half-time the coaches make a couple adjustments and we have not executed them very well without walking through them during practice time,” Bishop said. “This is a very hands-on group, with only a couple of them having varsity experience under their belts. I felt like, on Friday, we played a very consistent game. We stayed aggressive and most stayed mentally strong the entire game. Just allowed a couple defensive breakdowns, (and) happen(ed) to (have) a couple hot shooters (with) a low shooting percentage night.”
Coach Bishop eluded some changes may be coming. “There will be some changes in the next week to shake things up a bit. Defensive, valuing the ball, and confident shooting will be areas of emphasis this week,” she said.
Coach Bishop still maintains the best the Lady Spartans have to offer is ahead of them. “Considering the circumstances, the girls have continued to stay true to our mission,” she said. “We have had a great group of kids that I believe have not seen our best game yet.”
Solon hosted West Delaware on Tuesday, Jan. 30, for Senior Night and recognized senior members of the team.
“This is a great group of seniors,” Bishop said of her upperclassmen. “They all bring something unique and special to our team. Brianna (Smith) is such a great leader. Sam (Miller) makes everyone laugh. Heather (Vance) is so kind. Mady (Hess) is willing to do anything for anyone and Hailey (Denney) helps everyone feel a part of the team. Not all of them play, but all play an important role in what it takes to be apart of a team!”
The Lady Spartans spend the last two games of the regular season on the road. Friday, Feb. 2, they travel to Maquoketa and Tuesday, Feb. 6, the regular season closes on the hardwood in Mount Vernon. Both games have a 7:30 p.m. varsity start, preceded by a 6 p.m. junior varsity game.
The postseason pairings were announced and the Lady Spartans meet the Monticello Panthers on Saturday, Feb. 10, in Monticello, for the first round with a 7 p.m. tip off. .
“We are going to focus our attention on this week’s games first,” Coach Bishop commented on the pairing. “I don’t know much about them yet. We will have someone go watch them this week and we also have a few game films on them. I’m glad we get to play someone new, out of the WaMaC, but know they are a great team.”
Statistics for the article were provided courtesy of the Solon Lady Spartans basketball team.