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Close loss, close win

Spartans rebound from last-second Mt. Vernon loss to topple Regina
Solon sophomore A.J. Coons pivots against the Mount Vernon defense during a 63-61 loss to the Mustangs Jan. 12. Coons had 10 points for the Spartans. (photo by Crystal Eskelsen, Mount Vernon-Lisbon Sun)

IOWA CITY– One day you’re on the wrong end of a bad beat, the next day, you’re back on top.
Such was life for the Solon varsity boys’ basketball team last week.
After bouncing back from their first home loss of the season with a road win at Maquoketa Jan. 9, the Spartans saw an early lead escape and fell at Mount Vernon on a last-second bucket Friday, Jan. 12.
Solon turned around Saturday with a 48-42 win at Iowa City Regina, holding the Regals to their lowest point total of the season and allowing only 14 points over two quarters of play.
Regina came into the game 8-2 on the season. The win lifted Solon to 8-4.
“All I said was that we needed to take our defensive assignments or even defense as a whole more personal,” Solon Head Boys Basketball Coach Jason Pershing said. “Take it personal when an opponent scores are you or the team. Take pride in your defense.”
The Spartans jumped out to a 17-9 first-quarter lead.
“The team knew what we needed to fix or do a better job of after the loss,” Pershing said, noting practice was limited to a shoot-around Saturday afternoon.
Solon held Regina to five points in the third quarter and held a 37-27 lead going into the fourth.
The Regals’ leading scorer, sophomore Even Brauns, was held to four total points on 1-7 shooting from the field.
“Even is an amazing talent,” Pershing said. “A.J. (Coons) was assigned to him, but it is not just one man who can stop Even. It took all five guys on each possession to defend him. That was our plan. We helped and helped often, and gang rebounded.”
Both teams shot 32 percent from the field, well below their season average. But the Spartans were 7-20 from 3-point range while the Regals were 4-18, the Regina connected on only eight of 18 free throw attempts.
“We defended very well and played very unselfish,” Pershing noted. “We had 13 offensive rebounds, and the guys played very tough. I was very proud.”
Solon held a 37-26 advantage on the boards, led by Coons with 11. Senior Luke Schaeckenbach pulled down five offensive rebounds (six total) and senior Luke Ira added eight total.
Ben Krutzfeldt led the Spartans scoring with 15 points on 4-9 shooting from the field, including 3-7 from beyond the arc. He also went 4-4 at the charity stripe. Coons added 13, the only other player in double figures for Solon.
The Spartans had three players in double-digit scoring at Mount Vernon Jan. 12, but lost in the closing moments, 63-61.
Krutzfeldt had 16 points and shot 50 percent from long distance, while sophomore Cam Miller and Ira each added 10. Solon shot 52 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Mustangs 28-17, but allowed an early lead to disappear.
Both teams executed on well offense, Pershing said.
“We were just one stop away from finishing the game,” he said. “Gave up a couple offensive rebounds in the final minutes and a couple defensive plays where we over-helped too much.”
The Spartans return home after four on the road to host the Western Dubuque Bobcats Friday, Jan. 19, for a “Fill the Gym” night, featuring free admission for all Solon students and performances by the Solon High School Drum Line and Pep Band.