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Spartans rally against Regina

SOLON– It’s not easy being consistent.
After battling a tough Anamosa team tooth and toenail, Solon’s varsity basketball squad fell prey to the Cardinals of Maquoketa last week, collecting a third loss on the season before surging back against Iowa City Regina the next night.
The Spartans moved to 10-3 overall last week, solidifying their position behind Western Dubuque on the top of the WaMaC East heap.
Solon used a 23-point fourth quarter to push past Anamosa at home last Tuesday, taking a 56-48 victory from a hungry Raider team.
“I was very pleased with how our kids executed the defensive game plan,” head coach Brad Randall commented. Anamosa’s leading scorer, Spencer Barnes, was held scoreless in the first half and ended the game with 11 points.
But it was the fourth quarter that made the difference.
The Spartans held a 7-point first half advantage, but Anamosa clawed back and took the lead in the third.
“We played really well in the fourth,” Randall said. “So many guys made plays at the end.”
Solon had offensive support from Joe Weeks, who led the scoring with 13, along with Emilio Villagrana with 12 and Ethan Ahern with 10. Villagrana had four assists and three steals, but defensively, no one was more of a factor than Ryan Kunkel. Kunkel had four blocked shots and nine rebounds to lead the Spartans.
“It was a terrific finish and that’s what we’ve been striving for in practice,” Randall added. “It felt like we came 100 miles that night.”
And then came a let down hosting Maquoketa Friday night.
“It didn’t look like the same team at all,” Randall said. “We just could not get it together.”
That included an 0-11 showing behind the 3-point line.
“That game’s kind of a mystery to me,” he added.
Kunkel was the only Spartan in double digits for scoring with 11. He also had four more blocks and 10 rebounds to lead the team. Joe Weeks added 9 points and seven rebounds. Nick Shelman was 3-4 off the bench for 6 points.
Solon started the game well, but was out-scored 54-30 the final three quarters of the 65-42 loss.
The ship was righted Saturday against an Iowa City Regina team which had just seen a four-game win streak ended by West Branch.
Solon jumped out to a 15 point lead, but for some reason, a lid came down over the Spartan basket and the Regals knotted the game at 28 points going into the intermission.
“First quarter, good,” Randall said. “Fourth quarter good. We can play as good a single quarter as anybody.” But the trick is to keep it going for 32 minutes, he observed.
For three quarters, Solon clamped down on Regina, allowing only 15 total points for the Regals in the second half. But to allow 20 points in the second quarter? The Spartans will need to take care of the ball and play defense to help in the times when the offense isn’t clicking, he said. “We’re going to need that.”
Villagrana led the team against Regina with 21 points, shooting 7-16 from the field and 7-10 at the line. Weeks added 11 points and 10 rebounds. Kunkel had five blocks, seven rebounds and 8 points. Jaden Durr came off the bench with a couple of steals and a critical 3-pointer, Randall said. Austin M. Miller, starting for Rory Siddell, scored 8 points.