SOLON– Third quarter defense was a specialty for the Spartans last week.
Solon’s varsity boys posted a pair of double-digit home wins against West Delaware and Benton Community.
Against the Bobcats, the leaders of the WaMaC West, Solon scored the most points of the year (89) and chalked up its largest margin of victory (33).
In both games, the 56-36 win over West Delaware and the 89-56 win over Benton Community, the Spartans throttled the opposing offense in the third quarter and stomped on the offensive pedal, outscoring the two teams by a combined 32-11.
Against the Hawks Tuesday, Jan. 14, Solon let a 12-6 first quarter turn into a 26-24 halftime lead, but the Spartans then limited West Delaware to 12 points in the second half.
“We kind of let them chip away at the little lead we had,” acting head coach Miguel Villagrana said. “At halftime, I told them, ‘hey guys, this is up to you.’”
And the team responded.
“We felt that we were more athletic than them, if we just keep our pressure on them, we’d wear them down,” Villagrana said.
Solon scored 30 points in the second half for the 20-point win, with Jaden Durr and Austin Miller each chipping in 10 points for the game. Nathan Hawkins added eight off the bench and was the team’s leading rebounder with 11. The Spartans shot 35 percent from the field, including 0-11 from the 3-point line, and 56 percent from the line.
“We didn’t shoot it particularly well,” Villagrana said. “We won it on defense.”
The Spartans out-rebounded the Hawks 36-30, including 15 on the offensive glass.
“The first quarter, we controlled the boards pretty well, and in the second quarter we kind of let them control the boards,” Villagrana said. “And I think that’s a lot of how they stayed in the game in the second quarter.”
The shooting improved significantly Friday night hosting Benton Community.
This time, the Spartans had a one-point lead at the half and then went on an absolute scoring binge, putting 54 points in the third and fourth quarters.
But to Villagrana, it wasn’t necessarily a tale of two halves.
“We knew we had our work cut out for us,” Villagrana said. “But at halftime, we didn’t really alter our strategy. We just talked about the need to do what we’re trying to do– contest every open shot, not put them at the line, get the ball out and go, and attack the basket.”
Which seemed to work, as Solon held Benton Community to six points in the third quarter while rolling up a 15-point lead.
The Spartans had three players in double figures– Miller with 20, Durr with 19 and Ethan Ahern with 12. Ahern also had five blocks while Miller was the rebounding leader with 12, including eight offensive.
Solon shot 52 percent from the field, 3-12 from the 3-point line and 78 percent from the line. Miller, Durr and Ahern were a combined 63 percent from the field.
The Spartans also had 16 assists, with six from Emilio Villagrana, who also had four steals.
The Bobcats had come in to the game 9-2 and a recent victor over WaMaC West rival Williamsburg.
“I thought they gave us everything we could handle,” coach Villagrana said. “I don’t think the score was indicative of the gap between the two teams. It was just that we got on a roll.”
Solon hosted Williamsburg Tuesday, and then will hit the road Friday to Vinton-Shellsburg for a date with the Vikings. After a Saturday special at Iowa City Regina, the Spartans host Independence Tuesday, Jan. 28.