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Lady Spartans excited for 2020-2021 basketball season

Lady Spartans basketball ready to control what they can, nothing more, nothing less
Lady Spartan sophomore Kaia Holtkamp soars past West Delaware defender Claire Ridenour for a shot during the Lady Spartans' 76-45 win over the Hawks, at Solon High School, on Friday, Feb. 7.

SOLON– “We have had a great two weeks of practice,” Lady Spartans Head Coach Jamie Smith responded. “The energy and effort has been at a high level. We have got better.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic swelling and the promise of a pandemic modified season to contend with, the Lady Spartans under Coach Smith rely on a recurring theme.
The theme under Smith has been “‘Program>>>>Team>>>>Me.’ This served us well the past two years and has been a big part of the growth of the program.”
But the global pandemic has affected the Lady Spartans’ preparation.
“With these crazy times,” he added, “We have taken to ‘Control what we can. Nothing more nothing less.’”
Coach Smith enters his third season at Solon High School with a career record of 152-109 after the Lady Spartans finished last year at 9-13 overall, 9-10 overall in the WaMaC Conference and 5-7 in the WaMaC East.
With all the changes in society with pandemics and elections, Coach Smith and the varsity girls are leaning on a constant; the staff.
“We are thankful our staff remains the same,” Coach Smith noted. “Coach (Mark) Sovers, Coach (Jim) Smith and Coach (Danielle) Hawker.”
A new season begins for Solon just before Thanksgiving, however attendance is limited due to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ mandate and rules implemented the Iowa High School Girls Athletic Union. Solon High School will live stream broadcasts of athletic events online through the school’s website under the ‘Activities & Athletics’ tab under the ‘Athletics Live Stream’ tab. Live streams of select games will be announced on the district website, Facebook, Twitter, the iPhone/Android app, via email and through other official district communications platforms for those sheltering in place.
Barring any repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lady Spartans’ season begins Tuesday, Nov. 24, with a home season opener against the Center Point-Urbana Stormin’ Pointers.
Solon meets the West Liberty Comets Saturday, Nov. 28, in Rivalry Weekend at Coe College, in Cedar Rapids, at noon. Tuesday, Dec. 1, Coach Smith and the Lady Spartans welcome the Central DeWitt Sabers for a 7:30 p.m. tip off and Friday, Dec. 4, the Lady Spartans visit Clear Creek Amana to challenge the Clippers at 7:30 p.m.
The team returns starting juniors MaKinley Levin, Kaia Holtkamp, Elly Holubar, Jada Buffington and Ava Stebral from last season. Additional experience comes from returning letter winning sophomores Claire LaDage and Hilary Wilson.
During the 2019-2020 season, Levin (5-9, guard) started in 17 games for the Lady Spartans, played in 19, sinking 35.2 percent of her field goals (64-182), scored on 30.2 percent of her three-point shots, and sank 68.6 percent of her free throws (48-70). She also recorded 72 rebounds, 23 assists, 26 steals and 15 blocked shots.
Holtkamp (5-8, guard) started 21 of 22 games for the Lady Spartans during the same campaign and shot 36.2 percent inside the arc (97-268), 27 percent from three-point range (29-96), and 49 percent from the line (25-51), while accumulating 86 rebounds, 48 assists, 26 steals and three blocked shots.
Holubar (5-7, forward) started 18 games, playing in 22, and shot 42.7 percent up close (53-124), 31.2 percent beyond the arc (10-32) and dropped 49.3 percent from the stripe (35-71). She exploded on the boards pulling down 195 rebounds and added five assists, 29 steals and a blocked shot to her resume.
Buffington (5-6, guard) started 17 of the 22 games she played in, dropped 23.7 percent of her field goals (18-76), 17.5 percent beyond the arc (7-40) and 30 percent from the free throw line (6-20). She pulled down 59 rebounds, had 32 assists, 19 steals and three blocked shots.
Stebral (5-4, guard) started in 10 of the 21 games she played in, shooting 28.3 percent from the field (26-92), 28.8 percent from three-point range and 55.6 percent from the charity stripe (10-18). She pulled in 19 rebounds, recorded 36 assists, stole the ball 26 times and blocked seven shots.
LaDage (5-8, guard) played in all 22 of the Lady Spartans’ games in 2019-20, sinking 44.4 percent of her field goals (12-27), 37.5 percent of her three-pointers (6-16) and 63.6 percent at the stripe (14-22). She also contributed 21 rebounds, six assists, 11 steals and a blocked shot.
Wilson (5-6, guard) played in just nine games for the Lady Spartans scoring on 42.1 percent of her field goals (8-19), 18.2 percent of her threes (2-11) and 83.3 percent from the free throw line (5-6). She grabbed 17 rebounds, recorded seven assists, 15 steals and blocked a shot.
Coach Smith also quickly added he has some promising newcomers: “One of the top players in the state,” Smith said, freshman Callie Levin (5-9, guard), who is already entertaining Division I offers; freshman Hailey Miller (5-7, guard), who Coach Smith credits as a “good shooter with good skills;” and junior Alex Locke (5-8, forward) who Smith commended for spending a lot of time getting better.
“Returning a lot of experience,” he explained. “We will be deeper than we have since I have been here.”
Smith suggested this year’s success will come from continuing growth. “Feel we will score better,” he noted. “We have to take another big step this year to be in the conversation with the top teams.”
He remained grounded when commenting on the conference race this season.
“Think the conference is a little more balanced this year, but everything still goes through Marion and Center Point-Urbana.”
The new season’s possibilities are promising for the Lady Spartans, even with the cloud of a COVID resurgence.
“We are very excited for the season,” Smith remarked. “We have a lot of returning players and some new players that will contribute.”