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Pesky guards propel Solon past Marion

Kristen Purdy surveys the court during Solon’s 64-50 win at Marion. Purdy led the Lady Spartans with 19 points. (photos by Doug Lindner)

MARION– Marion’s Amanda Sahm was trying to bring the ball upcourt, but Rylee Smith was applying pressure all the way.
Just over half court, Smith made a swipe at the ball, jarred it out of Sahm’s hands, and dove after it onto the floor.
It must’ve seemed like it was that way all night for the Marion Indians.
Solon’s Lady Spartans knocked Marion out of postseason play Thursday with a 64-50 win on the Indians’ home court in the first round of the Class 4A girls’ basketball playoffs.
Solon broke the game open in the second quarter, building a double-digit lead, and weathered the storm in the third after Marion had tightened the game at halftime.
“We really felt going in that our guards could make life miserable for Marion and we wanted constant pressure hoping we would wear them down,” said Solon head coach Tony Nicol. The Lady Spartans forced the Indians into 30 turnovers, and the outside shot was dropping for Solon.
Kristen Purdy scored a team-high 19 points, shooting 4-5 from behind the 3-point line and 5-6 from the charity stripe. The Lady Spartans shot 6-9 as a team beyond the arc, but 20-67 from the field overall.
According to Nicol’s statistics, Marion shot almost 40 percent from the field, but it sure didn’t seem that way on the court.
Solon built a 12-point lead in the second period, but Marion narrowed the gap to 5 points at the half.
The Lady Spartans came out of the break and outscored the Indians 23-14 in the third, giving them a 15-point margin heading into the fourth.
“What made me most proud of the girls was the way they focused for this game and prepared during the week leading up to it,” Nicol said. “A goal was to force turnovers and Marion had 30. We wanted to limit their rebounds and held them to five offensive boards.”
The Lady Spartans hit 18-23 free throws and collected a total of 47 rebounds. “Shooting 78 percent from the line is huge for this team,” Nicol said.
Ali Herdliska and Emma Rickels each had 12 rebounds while Shelby Gunnells had 11. Herdliska also added 12 points and was 5-5 from the free throw line. Rylee Smith was the only other Solon player in double digit points with 11. Smith also had seven steals.
“The composure down the stretch was great and I thought the girls did a great job of running the offense and using a little clock while still being aggressive,” Nicol noted. “It was a very big win for the team and the program.”
The season ended for the Lady Spartans in a 50-27 loss to Cedar Rapids Xavier in a 4A regional semifinal Saturday in Cedar Rapids. No statistics were available as of press time.