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Spartans down Cardinals in OT

60-57 win moves Spartan boys to 12-7 with two games left
Solon senior Luke Schaeckenbach drives in for a layup after he stole the ball in the early moments of Solon’s varsity matchup against Maquoketa Friday, Feb. 2. (photo by Doug Lindner)

SOLON– It took overtime, but the Solon Spartans defended their home court against an improved Maquoketa squad with a 60-57 win Friday, Feb. 2.
The Cardinals had started the season losing six of their first seven games, but were 5-1 in their last six and matched the Spartans score for score in the second half of another nail-biter.
It started out well for Solon, which rolled out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on layups by Luke Ira, Luke Schaeckenbach and A.J. Coons (who was fouled for a traditional three-point play). But the Cardinals responded and only trailed by four points at the end of the half.
Maquoketa tied the game 35-25 at the end of the third and the two teams were stalemated at 48 to end regulation, thanks in part to a 26-point performance by Maquoketa junior Abe Becker.
“We had to do something different defensively, Abe Becker was too comfortable and their offense was flowing,” Solon Head Basketball Coach Jason Persing said. “We have added a couple things defensively to just help us through those low points. This was a perfect time for us to tinker with the 1-3-1.”
The Spartans dusted off the former defensive cornerstone in the second half.
“Coach Miguel Villagrana is the master and he has helped our guys feel comfortable with it,” Pershing said. “I feel it changed the pace of the game.”
Pershing said he still wants his players to buy into man-to-man defense.
“They need to understand that championship teams are tough and can guard and take it personal on the defensive end,” he said. “But sometimes you just need a little twist. The zone look does that for us.”
Senior Jack Stahle also provided momentum off the bench for Solon with 14 points and a game-winning steal against Becker.
“Jack Stahle had been a spark all year and Friday versus Maquoketa was not different,” Pershing observed. “He hit some free throws as well. He was definitely a huge reason why we were successful.” Stahle was 3-4 from 3-point range and 5-6 at the charity stripe.
Solon was led in scoring by senior Ben Krutzfeldt with 18, including 4-7 from the 3-point line and 2-2 at the free throw line. Coons added 15 points on 5-10 shooting from the field.
Both teams shot well from the field and were 50 percent from deep. The Spartans connected on 49 percent of field goal attempts, the Cardinals, 47 percent. But Solon connected on 75 percent of its free throws, while Maquoketa only hit 65 percent.
Solon won the rebound battle, 17-14, led by senior Luke Ira and sophomore Cam Miller, each with five boards.
The win lifted the Spartans to 12-7 on the season with two games remaining. After hosting Mount Vernon Feb. 6, Solon hits the road to close out the regular season Friday, Feb. 9, at Vinton-Shellsburg.
“My guys are dialed in and are healthy,” Pershing said. “We lifted on Sunday evening before the Super Bowl. They are such great athletes and teammates. It was great to get a team lift in and see the eagerness to continue the season on a positive note.”