SOLON– It was a hard-fought win to open the season.
Solon’s varsity basketball team traveled last week to Western Dubuque at Epworth and came away with a 59-52 win.
“We expected a pretty good punch and we got it,” said head coach Brad Randall of the road win. Led by junior Spencer Haldeman, Western Dubuque came into the game highly regarded, Randall said, but the 2013-14 Solon squad proved troublesome for the Epworth team’s offense.
The Spartans jumped out to a 13-8 first quarter lead they would not relinquish without a fight. Solon held a 5-point halftime lead and then fended off Western Dubuque through the third and fourth quarters.
“We made free throws, we were mistake-free and we made stops,” Randall said of his team, which was led by seniors Jaden Durr and Austin Miller, who each had 17 points. Durr also had four steals and was 7-11 from the free throw line. Miller was 4-5 from the charity stripe and finished the game with 10 rebounds.
Randall also singled out Jacob Black for helping spark a run against Western Dubuque and Nick Shelman for hitting a clutch 3-pointer.
Solon had four players with at least one made 3-pointer, something Randall said was a little more diverse than more recent editions of the team.
Western Dubuque is usually one of the tougher teams in the conference, he said. “To beat them on their floor, that says something,” he said. “We were the better team that night.”
Solon followed the road win up with a comfortable 57-28 home opener against Center Point-Urbana (CP-U).
The Spartans started out slow, spotting the Stormin’ Pointers to an 8-0 lead in the first quarter. “We had good shots, we just couldn’t knock ‘em down,” Randall said.
Solon responded to take a one-point lead at the half, and then outscored CP-U 40-12 in the second half. “We executed very well for a team playing its second game,” Randall noted. “That was a good second half.”
Miller and Durr again led the Spartan scoring with 13 and 11 points respectively. Ten players scored for Solon, including 9 from Black and 7 from Shelman.
Defensively, Solon had 16 steals, including four from Shelman and three each from Miller, Ethan Ahern and Emilio Villagrana. Villagrana had four assists, while the team as a whole had 13 assists on 22 made baskets.
Ahern had 10 rebounds to pace the team.
The boys were expected to host Mount Vernon Tuesday and will welcome Mid-Prairie for a traditional boys/girls doubleheader Saturday, Dec. 14, before a stretch of four road games.
Solon will head to Central DeWitt Tuesday, Dec. 17, followed by a trip to Dyersville Beckman. The schedule resumes in January with visits to Maquoketa and Clear Creek Amana.