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Free throws cost Spartans at home

SOLON– Solon shot the ball well from the free throw line.
But Assumption and Central DeWitt were nearly perfect.
Davenport Assumption’s Evan Wadsager was 14-14 from the line and Central DeWitt shot 33-34 to keep the Spartans at arm’s length during back-to-back home losses last week.
Solon fell to Davenport Assumption 70-66 Thursday night and lost to Central DeWitt Friday, 54-44.
“We really did some good things offensively,” head coach Brad Randall said of the Assumption game. “That’s probably the best job we’ve done scoring against them.”
The Spartans had three players in double figures- Austin Miller (18), Nick Shelman (11) and Jaden Durr (10)– and shot 46 percent from the field. Solon also was sharp at the line, connecting on 30 of 33 free throws (91 percent).
“That has to be the most free throws made by a Solon team,” Randall said. “Usually, you get to the line 33 times, you’re going to win the game.”
Solon Took the early 16-13 first-quarter lead, but allowed 22 second-quarter points and fell behind 35-26 at the half.
The Spartans drew within a single bucket multiple times in the third and fourth quarters, but couldn’t retake the lead, thanks in part to the performance by Wadsager, who drained 10 straight in the second half to preserve the Assumption lead.
“You don’t like to lose, but you did some good things out there,” Randall said.
Miller led Solon with seven rebounds while Durr added five, but Assumption had the advantage on the boards, 28-20.
The second quarter proved to be a problem again the next night hosting Central DeWitt. Solon held DeWitt to only eight points, but managed only four, and trailed at half, 14-13.
“That second quarter, it’s kind of our Achilles heel,” Randall said. “Their tempo won out.”
The Spartans took a 21-19 lead late in the third, but DeWitt scored most of its points the rest of the way at the free throw line.
“A lot of fouls,” Randall said. Emilio Villagrana and Nathan Hawkins were both in foul trouble with four, and Ethan Ahern fouled out. “That hurt us with those guys out of the game.”
Villagrana and Durr led the offense with 10 points each, while Durr had six rebounds, the most of any Spartan.
Solon shot 34 percent from the field, including 3-14 from the 3-point line, and were 15-22 from the free throw stripe.

The bright spot for the Spartans came on the road Feb. 11 against Marion, a 47-40 win.
“It was kind of an old-fashioned, grind-it-out game,” Randall said. “A lot of people stepped up at the end of the game, we played pretty good defense and we handled the ball well.”
All nine players scored for Solon, led by Ahern with nine points (3-3 from the field), and Hawkins with eight (4-4 from the free throw line). Nick Shelman and Miller had seven rebounds to lead the team, which had 36 boards for the game.
“We had more guys contribute in more ways than any other game this season,” Randall said, noting that Hawkins and Ahern had played tough defense down low, Shelman, Ahern and Hawkins hit free throws down the stretch, and Shay Croy hit a clutch 3-pointer.
Solon turned a one-point deficit after one quarter to a 22-18 halftime lead.
The Spartans finish the regular season this week with road games at Anamosa Tuesday (Feb. 18) and Clear Creek Amana Thursday.
The postseason begins Monday, Feb. 24, against South Tama at Van Horne, with a District 10 final Feb. 27 at Cedar Rapids Prairie.