• 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.

Vikettes end Lady Spartans season, 64-55

Lady Spartans end season with 9-13 record
Solon sophomore Kaia Holtkamp and freshman Claire LaDage attempt to mug Vinton-Shellsburg junior Keira Ott for a rebound during fourth quarter play in the Lady Spartans' 64-55 loss to the Vikettes during quarterfinal play, at Solon High School, on Saturday, Feb. 15.

SOLON– After a season of ups and downs, the final game of the Lady Spartans’ 9-13 basketball season revealed the maturity and grace of an improving program, up from 3-18 last year, following the 64-55 Class 3A Region 5 quarterfinal defeat at the hands of the Vinton-Shellsburg Vikettes on Saturday, Feb. 15, at Solon High School.
The Vikettes built a scant five-point lead in the first quarter, the Lady Spartans tenacity coming courtesy of late buckets by sophomores Ava Stebral and MaKinley “Mak” Levin, Vinton Shellsburg 16, Solon 11.
A little more than a minute and a half gone in the second quarter, Solon called a time out following a three-pointer by sophomore Kaia Holtkamp to restart the Lady Spartans who trailed, 23-14. Sophomore Elly Holubar would drop two consecutive free throws, with .09 ticks remaining in the half, to close Solon within six, trailing Vinton Shellsburg, 31-26.
The Vikettes built an 11 point lead with a little more than 2:10 remaining in the third quarter, and maintained the 11 point differential over Solon, outscoring the Lady Spartans 13-7, for a 44-33 score at the horn.
Eight minutes remained in one team’s season, the other would move on to meet Monticello, or so everyone believed, following the veteran voice of the Lady Spartans Don Ellis’ announcement Monticello held a 23-16 lead. Eleven points and eight minutes remained the semi final matchup of Class 3A Region 5 would be decided.
Solon called a timeout after Holtkamp brought the Lady Spartans within 11 again with 7:13 glowing at the top of the scoreboard. Stebral dropped a three-point shot to get Solon within eight but the Vikettes responded. Holubar got the student section and the Lady Spartan faithful to their feet with a rebound-put-back. Another three by Stebral with a little more than 3:56 remaining closed Solon to within five, 49-44, and had Vintin-Shellsburg coaching staff scrambling to get a timeout in hopes of breaking the Lady Spartans’ momentum. Stebral dropped a bucket in the paint with 1:40 remaining to close Solon within eight, 55-47, and make the eight point lead tentative for the Vikettes as Solon took a timeout to plan their next move. A Holtkamp three courtesy of a Levin assist had Solon within seven, 60-53, with just 30.7 ticks showing in the game. The Lady Spartan supporters in attendance bellowed and cheered trying to will the Solon buckets to fall. Vinton had to take a timeout having trouble in-bounding the ball. A quick score by the Vikettes and Holtkamp returned the favor to make it 62-55 in favor of Vinton-Shellsburg. Solon chose to foul on the inbound and a pair of free throws there was still a chance but a final three attempt by Holtkamp bounced off the rim and backboard and the Vikettes rebounded, holding the ball as the final ticks of the Lady Spartans’ season expired. Vikettes 64, Solon 55.
Ellis announced, Monticello had been victorious over Mount Vernon prior to bidding everyone a safe journey home, setting up a Wednesday, Feb. 19, Class 3A Region 5 semifinal game between Vinton Shellsburg and Monticello.
It was seniors Aira Foster and Jenna LaDage’s last time on the court playing for the Lady Spartans.
“Vinton got to the basket well,” Head Coach Jamie Smith said a bit poignantly. “They also did a good job from keeping us getting to the basket. We had some good looks early that just didn’t go.”
Vikette junior Lucy Howes-Vonstein led all scorers on the court with 28 of Vinton-Shellsburg’s 64 points. Holtkamp led the Lady Spartans with 17 points. She had an offensive rebound and two defensive rebounds, three assists and a steal during the game.
Solon sophomore Stebral scored 14 points, grabbed two defensive rebounds, recorded two assists and blocked a shot. Mak scored ten for Solon grabbing three rebounds, two offensive and a defensive, while racking up seven assists. Holubar scored nine points while battling for thirteen rebounds, nine offensive and four defensive. LaDage added five points for Solon, pulled down three defensive boards, and recorded one assist.
The Vikettes shot 48.8 percent, 21-43, from two-point range, 5-20 from three-point range and dropped 17-22 free throws. The Lady Spartans, by comparison, only dropped 16-48, 33.3 percent, from inside the arc, 8-30 from beyond, and 15-22 from the stripe.
Vinton-Shellsburg pulled down 31 total rebounds, nine offensive and 22 defensive, while Solon grabbed 27 total off the boards, 12 offensive and 15 defensive. The Vikettes had 14 assists, seven steals and only turned the ball over nine times versus the Lady Spartans’13 assists, one steal and only committed six turnovers.
Coach Smith shared the team discussions during the half and going into the final quarter and the Lady Spartans’ attitude trailing during the game.
“We talked about only being down by five and if we hit a few shots and kept shut off their cutting, we would have a chance in the end,” he elaborated. “Emotions were good. Girls were still focused. Going into the fourth quarter we talked about playing with some urgency.”
“We played until the end,” he emphasized.
Coach Smith was very proud of the progress his young team has made.
“Have said this many times before, every player improved,” he reflected. “We have a lot to be proud of. We talk about PROGRAM a lot. I feel we are real close to being able to use the word with the true meaning.”
He segued into acknowledging his tenured leaders.
“Both seniors will be missed,” Coach Smith commented. “Aira (Foster) has been part of the program for the past four years and was a player her teammates loved being around. She will be missed.”
“Jenna,” he continued. “Another player that put on a Solon uniform for four years. Was fun watching her grow the past two years. Her teammates will miss her.”
He emphasized, “As a coach, I will miss both of them.”
He also recognized the support for the Lady Spartans evident throughout the game.
“Last night, we had an amazing crowd,” he exalted. “Crazy to compare the atmosphere from last year to this year. We appreciate all the support, we do not take it for granted. We want this to be the norm for Solon girls basketball.”
Coach Smith emphasized this season may have ended, but the Lady Spartans basketball program will continue.
“Things will slow down for a few weeks for the staff, but we will get back to work getting ready for next year,” he said. “Some of the players have spring sports and summer sports coming up, so we are excited to see them compete in those sports. We will also spend time helping grow our youth programs.”
Coach Smith assured, “We will keep working hard. A lot of our players will keep playing during the spring through outside channels. We have to continue to get better. This is a fun process!”
Statistics for the article were provided courtesy of Quickstatsiowa.com and the Varsity Bound-Iowa High School Sports app on Feb. 16.