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Spartans lose OT thriller to Pointers

Solon drops to 1-1 after opening win at Indee
Solon senior Zach Cusick elevates for a jump shot over the Center Point-Urbana defense Dec. 2. The Spartans fell in overtime, 74-69. (photo by Doug Lindner)

SOLON– It went down to the wire.
The Solon Spartans and the Center Point-Urbana (CP-U) Stormin’ Pointers took a varsity boys basketball match-up into overtime Dec. 2 in Solon.
CP-U held Solon to just three points in the extra period to prevail, 74-69, handing the Spartans their first loss of the season.
Solon dropped to 1-1, having won the Nov. 29 season opener on the road at Independence, 58-41.
Against the Stormin’ Pointers, the Spartans overcame a 21-12 first-quarter deficit and the two teams traded baskets in the second half. After trailing by four points at the half, Solon managed to knot the score at the end of the third (44-44) and fourth quarters (66-66).
CP-U rode the performances of two juniors– Dylan Harris and Grant Dirks– who accounted for 54 of the team’s 74 points. The two were a combined 20-25 from the free throw line, while the rest of the Stormin’ Pointers were 3-13.
The charity stripe was a familiar setting for the Stormin’ Pointers.
CP-U had 38 free throw attempts, while the Spartans were limited to 19. The Stormin’ Pointers shot 60.5 percent from the line as a team, while Solon connected on 14 attempts (74 percent).
CP-U had a better night offensively, shooting 48 percent from the field, while the Spartans settled for 36 percent, including going 5-17 from the 3-point line.
Solon was led in scoring by freshman A.J. Coons off the bench with 19 points, while senior Zach Cusick added 15.
“A.J. has played high-level basketball since he was in elementary school, so he is prepared to make the jump to varsity basketball,” observed Solon Head Coach Jason Pershing.
No other Spartans were in double figures, although senior Sterling McIlravy had nine points and Pershing received contributions from the bench. Luke Schaeckenbach added four points, Andrew Steffens chipped in three points and Ryan LaDage had a single made basket.
“I am very excited about our depth,” Pershing said. “This summer we worked on preparing all our guys to be contributors. My staff and I give each guy confidence and we know they have put the time in to help our team. We will be a very deep team and this will help us each night.”
Solon had 22 assists on 25 made baskets, led by junior Ben Krutzfeldt with six and Luke Ira with five.
Solon out-rebounded CP-U, 41-36, led by McIlravy with 10, including five offensive rebounds. Cusick added nine boards.
At Independence to start the season, the Spartans overcame a sluggish second quarter to out-score the Mustangs 22-4 in the third period on the way to a 58-41 win.
Luke Ira led all scorers with 20 points on 7-10 shooting, including going 6-9 from 3-point land. A.J. Coons added nine points, while Krutzfeldt had eight. Nine different players scored for Solon.
Krutzfeldt also had eight assists and five steals to lead the team in both categories. The Spartans made 20 assists on 23 made baskets and recorded 11 team steals.
Independence held Solon to just two points in the second quarter and held a 21-17 halftime lead before the Spartans seized control in the second half.
“We relaxed and got into our defensive-minded flow,” Pershing said of his halftime adjustments. “This led to more productive offensive possessions and our nerves settled down. We moved the ball much more crisply, but most importantly, we defended at a higher rate.”
Solon had seven players with at least three rebounds, led by A.J. Coons and LaDage with six each and Cusick and McIlravy with five.
After a road trip to Central DeWitt Dec. 6, the Spartans return home to host Western Dubuque Friday, Dec. 9. The Solon boys hit the road for Anamosa Tuesday, Dec. 13.