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Streak ends at Mt. Vernon

Solon rebounds against South Tama

SOUTH TAMA– The winning streak for the varsity boys’ basketball team ended at 16 in Mount Vernon Feb. 9.
The Mustangs took an early lead and held it, 60-47, to hand Solon only its second loss of the season.
But the Spartans bounced back for an easy win at South Tama Feb. 12 and head into the final week of the regular season with a 17-2 record.
“Hats off to Mount Vernon. They came out with a lot of energy from the jump. They guarded well and ran their offense well,” observed Solon Head Coach Jared Galpin. “We didn't get off to a good start. We gave up six offensive rebounds in the first quarter. You can't give a team like Mount Vernon more than one opportunity each possession. Couple that with unforced turnovers and that is not the recipe to compete against a good opponent.”
The Mustangs were powered by senior Keaton Kutcher with 32 points to lead all scorers. Kutcher was 12-23 from the field, including 6-11 from the three-point line.
Mount Vernon built a 12-7 lead in the first quarter and stretched it to 30-21 at the half.
“Despite all of that, we still close the gap to five and four points multiple times,” Galpin noted. “We just couldn't get a stop and a basket when we needed one. Give Mount Vernon credit. They played well.”
Senior David Bluder was the only Spartan in double digits with 23 points. Bluder was 9-12 from the field, including 3-4 from deep. Senior Ben Cusick added eight and senior Carson Shive had seven points.
Shive finished with five fouls, a rarity for the team.
“We sat him for a while in the first quarter and part of the second, but we needed him on the floor, so we put him back in during the second quarter,” Galpin said. “To his credit he played some good minutes without picking up his third foul in the first half.”
Solon was 17-40 from the field (42.5 percent) and 3-11 from the three-point line. Mount Vernon went 22-46 (47.8 percent) overall and a crisp 7-15 (46.7 percent) from deep.
The Spartans won the rebounding battle (24-18), but had 16 turnovers to the Mustangs’ nine. Bluder led the team with six rebounds; Shive, Cusick and junior Kinnick Pusteoska each added four.

Solon’s second road trip of the week was more successful.
The Spartans took a big lead early and relied on their bench for 39 points in a 63-30 win at South Tama Friday night.
Solon outscored the Trojans 23-4 in the first quarter and 20-8 in the second for a 43-12 halftime advantage.
Fifteen players scored, led by Cusick with 10 points. Bluder and junior Carson Miller added six, while junior Logan Sieverding, senior Westen Stiegelmeyer and senior Bo Janssen kicked in five; junior Grant Gerdin and senior Drew Turner each added four.
The Spartans shot a solid 48.9 percent from the field (23-47), while holding the Trojans to 30 percent (12-40). Solon forced South Tama into 28 turnovers, amassed 15 steals and held a 26-20 margin on the glass. Sieverding had six rebounds to pace the team.
The regular season was scheduled to conclude this week with games at Center Point-Urbana Feb. 16, and hosting Washington (IA) Thursday, Feb. 18.
The Spartans will finish atop the WaMaC Conference East Division standings, and will begin postseason play Monday, Feb. 22, hosting South Tama with a 7 p.m. start. The winner faces either West Delaware or Maquoketa in Solon Thursday, Feb. 25, also at 7 p.m.
“Of course, the team and the coaching staff are happy with the conference championship,” Galpin commented. “We appreciate how tough it is to compete against high-quality opponents night in and night out. Winning the East was one of our goals from the beginning of the season. The guys have worked hard, played well together, and competed night in and night out. Winning the East is a direct result of how hard they have worked and how close this group is.”