SOLON– The Solon Spartans received a good growing experience courtesy of Dyersville Beckman Friday night.
Solon came out of Dyersville with a slim 57-55 win thanks to a pair of free throws by Solon point guard Emilio Villagrana.
“It was a very hard-fought, extremely physical game,” said head coach Brad Randall of the win. “You come out of there with a win, and you’ve really done something.”
The Spartans had a 10-point lead a couple of times during the game, Randall said, but the game still hung in the balance in the closing minutes. He credited Villagrana’s performance at the line and a clutch 3-point shot by Ethan Ahern for helping make a late-game difference.
“We need a little more poise, a little more toughness,” Randall said. “We showed some, but we can maybe get a little better.”
No one has been doing more of that recently than senior Joe Weeks.
Weeks led all scorers at Dyersville with 24 points on 11-15 shooting from the field. He also made 2-3 from the free throw line and was the leading rebounder with seven (three offensive).
“He’s really blossomed as a leader,” Randall said. “The last two ball games, he’s been the most dominant player on the floor.”
Villagrana was the only other Spartan in double figures with 12 (4-6 from the field, 2-4 from behind the arc). The Spartans were efficient against Beckman, shooting 56 percent from the field and 73 percent at the line, although Beckman went to the foul line 10 more times.
Solon saw a 5-point first quarter lead evaporate and the teams were tied at 29 at the half. But Solon asserted itself in the third, pushing ahead for a 6-point margin to start the fourth.
It had been much easier earlier in the week when Solon hosted the Mount Vernon Mustangs.
The Spartans walloped the Mustangs, 64-38, Tuesday, Jan. 8, limiting Mount Vernon to 13 first half points.
“Against Mount Vernon, we played as well as we have defensively,” Randall noted. “We dominated a young team on both ends of the floor, which you would expect.”
Solon cruised to a 32-13 first half lead and extended it to 51-21 after three quarters. The Mustangs were limited to 22 shot attempts for the game.
Weeks again led the scoring, this time with 16 points on 6-12 shooting (and 3-4 at the foul line). Rory Siddell added 11 points on 4-6 shooting, including 2-3 from downtown. Siddell injured his ankle in the Beckman game.
Showing some balanced scoring, the Spartans received contributions from Villagrana and Austin M. Miller, each with 8 points, and Ryan Kunkel with 7.
Weeks and Kunkel cleaned the glass with eight and five rebounds respectively.
The Spartans have now strung together three wins in a row, heading into a final home stand before spending six of the last eight games on the road.
Solon was scheduled to host a surging Anamosa team Tuesday and Maquoketa Friday before a boys/girls doubleheader with Iowa City Regina Saturday, Jan. 19.