MAQUOKETA– It’s hard to beat a team three times in one season, but that’s what awaits the Solon Lady Spartans in the basketball postseason.
The girls open the second season Wednesday, Feb. 19, hosting Maquoketa, a team that has lost twice to the Lady Spartans.
The second of those wins came on the road last week, as Solon came out of Maquoketa with a 46-36 win over the Cardinals Friday.
“Going to Maquoketa we knew it was going to be a battle,” said head coach Tony Nicol. “Maquoketa plays hard and likes to take it to the basket. We worked on help defense and the girls executed the defense very well.”
The Lady Spartans took an 8-3 lead after a low-scoring first quarter, and enjoyed a 20-13 margin at the half. The girls pulled away just enough in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Shelby Gunnells led the Solon scoring with 11 points on 5-8 shooting from the field. Alex Henry added 10 points, including 4-6 from the free throw line.
“It has been a huge adjustment without Rylee Smith, who led us in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals,” Nicol said. “The girls are just now getting used to some new roles and Alex Henry has stepped up her game offensively. Shelby Gunnells has been a consistent player all along and made some big shots down the stretch against Maquoketa.”
Sydney Lawson and Ali Herdliska each added eight points. Solon shot 40 percent from the floor, but only 47 percent from the charity stripe.
The Lady Spartans grabbed 32 rebounds, 10 of them on the offensive glass, led by Gunnells with seven, and Herdliska and Henry with five each.
“We do stress hitting the offensive boards, especially against the zone defenses that most of the teams have been playing against us,” Nicol noted.
The Maquoketa game was a nice bounce back after a tough 58-45 loss to Independence earlier in the week.
“Independence was one of the most frustrating games of the season,” Nicol said. “We came out early and made shots and played with tremendous energy on defense. Ali Herdliska came out on fire and hit three 3s early. We shot 46 percent from the field in the first half and played probably our best half of the season.”
The Lady Spartans led 19-3 after the first quarter and 31-19 at halftime, but managed only 14 points in the second half while Independence put up 39.
“Independence hit some big 3s in the third quarter and got back in the game,” Nicol explained. “The fourth quarter we could not get a basket to fall or a call to go our way and Independence got to finish out the game from the free throw line.”
Independence made 30 trips to the charity stripe in the game, compared to seven for Solon. The Lady Spartans were whistled for almost twice as many fouls as their opponents.
Herdliska led the Solon scoring with 13 points, while Josie Durr and Nichole Oberthien each scored eight.
The Lady Spartans host Clear Creek Amana (CCA) and then Marion in back-to-back home games Thursday and Friday. The CCA game is a makeup from a previously postponed match.