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Spartans outlast Cardinals in 2-OT thriller

MAQUOKETA– The Spartans already had one overtime win under their belts this season, why not another?
And why not make it two overtimes?
That’s what it took for Solon to down the Maquoketa Cardinals, 52-51, Friday on the road in Maquoketa.
Austin Miller made two free throws with 15 seconds remaining in the second overtime to give the Spartans the lead for good, and Maquoketa’s subsequent pass was deflected, preventing the Cardinals from getting off a shot before time expired.
“We wondered if we were going to be able to play tough at the end of quarters,” head coach Brad Randall said. “I think our kids showed a little something Friday night.”
Miller’s 22 points and 10 rebounds led the Spartans, who also got 11 points off the bench from Jacob Black.
Solon can still shoot better, Randall said, from the field and at the free throw line. The Spartans were 17-46 (37 percent) from the field and 16-26 (61.5 percent) from the charity stripe. Fortunately, the Cardinals didn’t shoot much better, and had 13 fewer free throw attempts.
“I thought we earned those,” Randall said of the Spartans’ night at the line. “I thought we went to the basket aggressively.”
Solon also went hard to the boards, out-rebounding the Cardinals 31-27, including 16 on the offensive glass.
Complementing Miller were Ethan Ahern with eight points and eight rebounds (five offensive) and Nick Shelman with five rebounds (four offensive). “Those three guys in particular really went to the boards hard,” Randall noted.
The coach also credited Nathan Hawkins for two clutch free throws in the first overtime.
The two teams battled neck and neck throughout the game, with Maquoketa holding a two-point 20-18 edge at the half. The Spartans led by two at the end of three quarters.
“It shows something for our depth when our two guards (Jaden Durr and Emilio Villagrana) foul out and you still win on the road,” Randall said.
Because of school cancellations, the Spartans have two games to make up– against Dyersville Beckman (postponed from Dec. 20) and Clear Creek Amana (postponed from Jan. 7).
Activities Director Keith McSweeney has announced the Clear Creek game will be rescheduled for Feb. 20. No new date for the Beckman game has been determined.
“This could be a year where there are games we don’t play,” Randall said. “We have to be ready to play without practice and we have to be ready to play three games in a week.”
Up next for Solon is a return home, somewhere they haven’t played since hosting a doubleheader against Mid-Prairie Dec. 14. The Spartans host Marion Friday, Jan. 10, West Delaware Tuesday, Jan. 14, and Benton Community Friday, Jan. 17.