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Lady Spartans stumble

S. Tama outpaces Solon, 51-47
Saige Hauer sizes up the defense before a drive to the basket during the Lady Spartans’ 51-47 loss, at home, to the South Tama Trojans on Tuesday, Nov. 28. (photo by Jeff Hess)

Solon Economist
SOLON– The Lady Spartans paced the South Tama Trojans on Tuesday, Nov. 28, but fell a few steps shy in the final quarter, losing 51-47.
“I think we let the game get away due to foul trouble, not taking care of the ball, and missed free-throws,” Coach Lisa Bishop commented. “Big credit to South Tama for capitalizing on each of those mistakes.”
Solon’s starting lineup for the second game of the season included juniors Saige Hauer, Gabby Marty, Abby Smith and Erin Kerkhoff led by senior Brianna Smith.
The first quarter saw the Lady Spartans jump out to an early lead, 11-9, running a full court press once again and trying to keep the tempo upbeat. The Trojans attempted to slow things down during their possessions, in a battle of wills. Neither team scored in the first two minutes of play before Solon took the initial lead, a lead they would not relinquish until the final two minutes of the game.
The Lady Spartans extended their lead to nine points on a shot outside the arc by Brianna Smith with just under six minutes remaining in the half. Marty and Kerkhoff found themselves in foul trouble in the first half, but Solon was leading 25-19 at the horn.
When the teams returned to start the second half, Brianna Smith started the scoring pushing the Lady Spartans’ lead to 27-19. She would pick up her third foul with around five minutes remaining in the third and Coach Lisa Bishop pulled the team together to make adjustments, the team reentering the fracas with a chant of, “Together!”
Solon took some inaccurate outside shots allowing the Trojans to close, 29-28 with a little over 2:30 remaining in the third. The Lady Spartans rattled off nine unanswered points to end the third leading 38-28 on a bucket by Jenna LaDage.
The fourth quarter saw the Trojans rally to within five points, 40-35, with just over five minutes remaining in the game and Coach Bishop called a well placed timeout in an attempt to interrupt South Tama’s momentum.
The Trojans began a game of fouls with a little over four minutes remaining in the game and Hauer picked up her fourth personal with a little over 2:30 remaining. The subsequent free throws closed the Trojans to within three, 45-43.
The Trojans went on to tie the game at 45 and on the following inbounds the Spartans were charged with a five-second violation.
Solon was trailing 49-45 when Brianna Smith picked up her fifth foul with a little over 1:10 remaining in the game.
Solon fell just short, losing 51-47, outscored 23-9 in the final quarter.
“I think our lack of experience is what threw us off,” Bishop said. “Bri(anna Smith) and Gabby (Marty) were the only ones that have been in situations like that and they were both in foul trouble. We need confident ball-handlers that are willing to be floor leaders when the game gets down to the wire.”
Marty led Solon scoring 15 points and pulled down eight rebounds; Brianna Smith added 11 points with three rebounds, two assists and two steals; Hauer put up eight points with four rebounds, four assists and two steals; Kerkhoff added six points with four rebounds and a steal; LaDage contributed four points with three rebounds and three steals; and Vanessa Milliman pulled down two rebounds and stole the ball once.
Responding to the 33 turnovers the Lady Spartans amassed in the game, Coach Bishop said, “It’s hard to change a stat like turnovers in two days for Marion and we are playing to improve every game so we can be playing at our best come February. Turnovers are common for a young, inexperienced team but daily, at practice, we will continue to work on handling the ball and passing. But it’s not something you can fix overnight. The girls have to be willing to push themselves in practice day after day, week after week, in order to see improvement against a pressure team. If everyone on the team takes accountability and seeks continual improvement every day, we will get there.” 
The Spartans moved to 1-1 for the season with a road trip to Marion planned for Friday, Dec. 1, and a visit from the Washington Demons planned for Saturday, Dec. 2.
“Marion is ranked No. 1 in the state and honestly I haven’t seen such a talented, deep and wide team since I have been coaching,” Bishop said. “Our game plan was to try and focus on us. Defensively by excellent defensive positioning by keeping them off the free throw line line, and offensively valuing the basketball.”