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Lady Spartans overcome Vikettes, 54-44

SOLON– The Solon Lady Spartans varsity basketball team took a fast-paced victory, 54-44, over the Vinton Shellsburg Vikettes, at home, on Friday, Dec. 11.
It was a game reminiscent of Hunter S. Thompson’s notable quote: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a ride!’”
Both teams ramped the tempo from the opening tip to the end of the game, often finding the pace to be at the ragged edge of control with both coaches franticly directing from the sideline, at times, in arguably one of Solon’s most competitive performances of the season.
Solon Nation never left the edge of its seats, even as the Lady Spartans fell short in the first quarter, trailing 10-6, with both teams trying to control the pace. However, the Lady Spartans left rubber on the wood in the second quarter, outperforming the Vikettes, 20-14, after tying the game with roughly three minutes remaining at 17-17 and Ava Stebral dropped a three-pointer with 20 ticks remaining to deliver a tight 26-24 lead at the half.
Head Coach Jamie Smith praised the Lady Spartans’ ability to push the pace, challenging Vinton-Shellsburg.
“We try to play at a fast pace and, sometimes, we can get a little out of control,” he confessed. “But I think that pace favors us in the long run.”
Solon started the third with possession of the ball and, just 47 seconds into the quarter, Vinton-Shellsburg called a timeout, as if to interrupt the pace the Lady Spartans began with in the quarter. The Vikettes tied things at 26-all before junior Kaia Holtkamp edged Solon to a 28-26 lead with less than 6:30 remaining in the third. A steal and bucket by Callie Levin gave Solon a 30-26 buffer but the Vikettes tightened the lead to 30-28 with 5:37 left.
A Vinton-Shellsburg foul sent Callie Levin to the line to make the score 37-32 and Elly Holubar headed to the charity stripe after almost being clothes-lined driving for a basket. Holubar added one of two free throws and the quarter ended shortly after with a five-point difference and eight minutes to determine the game.
Solon took a timeout with 5:43 remaining in the game after falling to a one-point deficit, 41-40.
The Lady Spartans found a spark with a layup by Callie Levin to reclaim the lead, 42-41, with 5:18 left atop the scoreboard. A pair of free throws by Holubar put Solon up 44-41 at the 4:49 mark and Claire LaDage delivered Solon a 47-41 lead after a layup and free throw following a foul. In the final moments, Solon worked its way to the 54-44 victory, capitalizing on free throws.
Head Coach Jamie Smith was all smiles following the game.
“Always a big win in the WaMaC. Vinton was undefeated and they are a very good team,” praised Coach Smith. “Also, good to get them after they beat us last year in regionals.”
Solon shot 69.6 percent from the free throw line, dropping 16 of 23, and had an effective field goal percentage of 42.2 percent, dropping six of 21 beyond the arc and 16 of 45 from field goal range, while committing 22 turnovers and 18 fouls as a team. The Vikettes limited themselves to 16 turnovers and 20 fouls while shooting five of 11 from the free throw line (45.5 percent) and had an effective field goal percentage of 33.6 percent, 19 of 58 from field goal range and one of seven from three-point range.
Coach Smith felt the team’s depth played into the victory.
“We are deeper than we have ever been,” he said. “Ava (Stebral) and Jada (Buffington) played a lot of games the last two years and started at times. They are a big spark for us off the bench.
“Claire LaDage played in every game last year as a frosh, so she has experience,” Coach Smith added. “That’s nice as a team to have.”
Kaia Holtkamp played a very good game on both ends of the floor, he noted, while Elly Holubar did a great job on the boards.
“Callie (Levin) played her normal good game and made some big free throws down the stretch,” he added. “Same with Mak (Levin) she hit some huge free throws the last two minutes.”
The Lady Spartans (3-2) hit the road Monday, Dec. 14, for a 6 p.m. game versus the West Branch Bears (3-1) and host the Marion Indians (1-1) Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 6 p.m. The South Tama Trojans visit Solon High School on Friday, Dec. 17, for a 7 p.m. tip and the Lady Spartans host the Independence Mustangs Tuesday, Dec. 22, at 7:30 p.m.
“West Branch is No. 1 in (Class) 2A and will be a huge test Monday night,” Coach Smith commented. “Marion is Marion and they will be a tough game on Tuesday.”

Solon 54, Vinton-Shellsburg 44 statistics (courtesy of ia.varsitybound.com):
Points- Callie Levin 18, MaKinley Levin 10, Kaia Holtkamp 9, Ava Stebral 6, Jada Buffington 5, Elly Holubar 5, Hillary Wilson 1.
Rebounds (Off-Def)- Holubar 9 (6-3), Holtkamp 9 (1-8), Callie Levin 6 (0-6), MaKinley Levin 4 (0-4), Claire LaDage 2 (1-1), Buffington 1 (0-1), Stebral 1 (0-1).
Assists- Holtkamp 2, Holubar 2, Callie Levin 2, Stebral 2, LaDage 1, Wilson 1.
Steals- Callie Levin 4, Buffington 2, Holubar 2, Stebral 1.
Blocks- MaKinley Levin 3, Holtkamp 1, Callie Levin 1.