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Solon outlasts Vinton-Shellsburg, 51-47, in home opener

Lady Spartan senior Jenna LaDage drives into Vinton-Shellsburg senior Davia Herger drawing a foul during Solon's 51-47 home opener win on Friday, Dec. 6.

SOLON– The Lady Spartans basketball team claimed its first win of the season in their house, 51-47, over the Vinton-Shellsburg Vikettes in a crowded Solon High School gymnasium Friday, Dec. 6. The home stands were well populated as Solon hosted its home opener.
With a little over six minutes remaining in the first quarter the Lady Spartans trailed Vinton, 4-0, and sophomore Kaia Holtkamp started the scoring for Solon, lofting up a three-pointer to make the score, 4-3. The Vikettes extended the lead, but sophomore Ava Stebral closed the gap for the Lady Spartans dropping the ball in the bucket and collecting a foul to close on Vinton, 12-6, with a little more than three minutes remaining. The first quarter ended with the Vikettes leading, 16-12.
In the first quarter, Holtkamp had six for the Lady Spartans, Stebral four and sophomore MaKinley Levin added two.
The Lady Spartans rallied at the beginning of the second quarter to take an 18-16 lead on a three-pointer by Elly Holubar with 5:39 remaining in the half. Solon ended the half leading the Vikettes, 26-22, as both teams took to the locker room.
The school hosted a Halftime Shootout with proceeds benefiting the Solon Booster Club, for an opportunity to shoot with a successful layup good for a choice of candy, a successful free throw won Pancheros chips and queso, a successful three-pointer delivered a Pancheros burrito and a successful half-court shot garnered 12 Pancheros burritos. There was also a youth league scrimmage following the shootout.
The Vikettes came out slinging and quickly closed the gap, trailing 28-27 with about seven minutes remaining in the third. By the time five minutes remained in the quarter the score was knotted at 28-all and a minute later the Vikettes reclaimed the lead, 31-28. Holubar closed the gap to 31-30 with a deuce at the 2:27 mark and with 30 seconds remaining, a three-pointer by freshman Claire LaDage pushed Solon to the final score for the third quarter; Solon led Vinton at the end of three, 34-33.
Solon sophomore Jada Buffington drained a three to start the Spartans’ scoring in the fourth and Solon led 37-35 with seven minutes remaining in the game. With about five minutes left, Buffington dropped another three to make the Solon lead 41-39. Levin made it a 42-40 lead over the Vikettes with 4:28 remaining. Stebral, on a drive to the basket, collected a foul and drained both at the charity stripe to give Solon a 44-40 advantage. Holtkamp gave Solon a 46-40 margin with a drive through heavy traffic for a layup with three minutes aglow at the top of the scoreboard. Solon Head Coach Jamie Smith called time as the Lady Spartans seemed trapped in the corner of the court on a rebound leading 48-40 with 2:04 remaining.
A three-pointer by Vinton closed the gap to 49-43 with less than a minute remaining. Vinton resorted to fouling Solon and the Lady Spartans extended the lead to 51-43. The final seconds became a dart-about-fracas as the Vikettes’ final shot fell and the Lady Spartans played keep away until the horn sounded. Solon was triumphant in the 2019-20 home season opener, 51-47.
Coach Smith was pleased with the outcome.
“They were doing exactly what we had planned for,” he commented. “We showed some, a lot of, growth when we got down… in the first quarter.”
Coach Smith also felt all the players had stepped up at home.
“Hard to pick out just one player,” he said. “I thought all of the players contributed. We had eight players score. We had eight players get a rebound. Six players hit at least one three. Mak (Levin) and Elly (Holubar) did a great job on the boards. Ava (Stebral) did a great job of finding open people. Jenna (LaDage) hit some big threes in second quarter. Big game by all!”
The Lady Spartans found success sinking 12-48 field goals, 9-26 beyond the arc and 18-34 from the free-throw line. Vinton went 16-40, 4-9 and 11-31, respectively. Rebounding, both teams were an even heat at a total of 36 apiece. The Vikettes only tallied three assists while the Lady Spartans had 10 and Solon stole the ball 12 times to Vinton’s 10. The Lady Spartans limited their turnovers to 17 in the game, while Vinton recorded 16.
While Vikette junior Lucy Howes-Vonstein led all scorers on the evening with 19 points, the Lady Spartans’ Holtkamp scored 12 points for Solon, senior Jenna LaDage racked up nine points, Buffington added seven, Stebral tallied six, Holubar and Levin added five apiece, Claire LaDage provided four points and freshman Hilary Wilson contributed three to Solon’s total.
Levin led Solon on the boards with nine rebounds, one offensive and eight defensive. Holubar battled for seven total, two offensive and five defensive.
Stebral led Solon in assists with four.
Coach Smith called upon the team several times in the final minutes of the game to calm down but was not concerned about the game getting away.
“No, we like to play at a pace,” he explained. “But at the time, we were up eight and we were getting a little out of sorts.”
Coach Smith added, “Another great learning experience.”
“Any win is a good win,” he said, but added it definitely refocused the team.
“The locker room was rocking after the game,” he said. “Girls were excited and we turned around and had a good practice Saturday. For me as a coach, the winning is relevant because I know how hard the players work. Other than that, we talk about putting ourselves in position to be successful.”
The Lady Spartans hosted Independence on Tuesday, Dec. 10, and travel to Benton Community High School, in Van Horne, on Friday, Dec. 13, for a 7:30 p.m. varsity tip-off. West Branch visits Solon High School to battle the Lady Spartans on Monday, Dec. 16, at 6 p.m. On Tuesday, Dec. 17, Solon hosts Central DeWitt at 6 p.m. and Friday, Dec. 20, at 7 p.m., the 2019 leg of the season comes to an end hosting Beckman Catholic.
“Well, Independence will be another tough game Tuesday,” Coach Smith remarked. “Then Friday on the road at Benton is another tough game. Our approach is the same as always.”
Lady Spartans statistics from the 51-47 win, at home over Vinton-Shellsburg on Friday, Dec. 6:
Points– Holtkamp 12, J. LaDage 9, Buffington 7, Stebral 6, Holubar 5, C. LaDage 4 and Wilson 3.
Rebounds– Levin 9, Holubar 7, J. LaDage 5, Holtkamp 5, Buffington 3, Wilson 2, C. LaDage 1, Stebral 1.
Assists– Stebral 4, Holtkamp 2, Wilson 2, J. LaDage 1, Levin 1.
Steals– Levin 3, Wilson 3, Holtkamp 2, J. LaDage 2, Stebral 2.
Blocks– Levin 2, Stebral 1.