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Defense feeds offense in wins

Big third periods boost Solon boys over Williamsburg, Vinton-Shellsburg

SOLON– The third quarters belonged to Solon.
In a home game against Williamsburg Dec. 8 and on the road against Vinton-Shellsburg Dec. 11, the varsity boys’ basketball team used the third period to great advantage.
Solon outscored Williamsburg 29-4 and Vinton-Shellsburg 28-8 to put both games effectively out of reach heading into the fourth.
The Spartans downed the Raiders, 70-36, and took care of the Vikings, 75-43, to move to 3-1 on the season.
“We have done a good job of making adjustments to our game plan,” observed Solon Head Coach Jared Galpin. “This is an experienced team, so the more time we have together, the more comfortable they are going to become in our team concepts and system. The team has really put an emphasis on playing defense. We have a ways to go, but we are making progress. Our defense has turned into offense.”
It was a slow start for the Spartans hosting the Raiders.
Solon ended the first period with as many fouls as points, and Williamsburg had a 9-6 lead.
A Kinnick Pusteoska three-point play cut the margin to 13-9, but it was junior Jake Quillin who sparked a Spartan rally. Quillin followed a floater in the lane with a three-pointer to give Solon a 14-13 lead.
The Raiders responded with a run late in the second and briefly retook the lead with less than a minute remaining in the half.
Quillin calmly stepped into another three-pointer, then hit two free throws to put the Spartans back up, 28-24, with 15 seconds left, but Solon had one more possession, and with it senior David Bluder drained a deep three with less than two seconds on the clock for a 31-24 edge.
“Not a lot was going well in the first half, especially in the first quarter against Williamsburg,” Galpin noted. “Jake gave us a big lift. He scored 12 points in the quarter. David's shot was a good confidence boost going in at the half. We are getting good scoring out of multiple players. More importantly, guys are impacting the game in other ways, too.”
After blowing the game open in the third, the Spartans cruised in the fourth for the 70-36 win.
Bluder scored a team-high 21 points, including 5-8 from three-point land. Quillin finished with 14, was a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line and had a team-high five assists. Pusteoska added 11 points, going 5-7 from the field. Senior Bo Janssen pulled down seven rebounds to pace the team.
Solon had a seven-point halftime lead against Vinton-Shellsburg before breaking out with the 28-8 third-period barrage. The Spartans held a 60-33 margin going into the fourth quarter in Vinton.
Solon held the Vikings to under 40 percent from the field while hitting 12-20 from the three-point line (60 percent), including 3-3 for Carson Shive and 4-5 from Bluder.
“We are progressing defensively,” Galpin said. “We are still learning and working to become more consistent, but the effort is there. We will mix man and zone throughout the game, but we hang our hat on our man defense.”
Bluder finished with 16 points, Shive 15. Ben Cusick added 10 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots. Cusick, Bluder and Quillin were each 2-2 from the charity stripe.
The Spartans had 21 assists on 27 made shots, led by Will Noonan and Quillin with five each. Solon won the battle of the boards, 26-20, and had 10 turnovers to Vinton-Shellsburg’s 13.
After a visit to West Branch Dec. 14, the Spartans were scheduled to host Marion Dec. 15 and Camanche Saturday, Dec. 19, at 3 p.m. to close out 2020.