SOLON– Rylee Smith shot only two free throws against Central DeWitt.
They came with five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, and the Lady Spartans needed them to break a 37-37 tie.
Smith sank them both. They were the second and third point scored by Solon in the fourth quarter of a game which the Lady Spartans controlled in the first half, and almost let slip away in the second.
Solon’s girls defeated Central DeWitt, 39-37, last week at home, then traveled to Manchester Friday for a 53-35 thumping over West Delaware.
“I think in the DeWitt game, the girls got a little tight in the second half and instead of playing to win started to play not to lose,” said head coach Tony Nicol. “DeWitt was very well coached and restricted our inside touches. When a few outside shots did not fall, the girls lost their composure a bit and let it impact the defensive end as well.”
Solon held a 27-13 lead at halftime, and still had a 36-23 advantage going into the fourth quarter. The Lady Spartans were held without a made field goal in the fourth quarter, scoring their first points with just over two minutes remaining, a free throw by Kara Misel.
Rylee Smith and Misel led the team in scoring with 11 points each. Solon shot 35 percent from the field and 40 percent from the free throw line.
Misel and Emma Rickels each had five rebounds to pace the team. Four of Rickel’s rebounds were on the offensive glass. Kristen Purdy had six steals
Just the opposite happened Friday in Manchester.
The two teams battled evenly through two quarters, with Solon taking a one-point lead into the half.
But in the third, the Lady Spartans went on a 16-4 run and put the game away in the fourth, outscoring west Delaware 11-6.
“We came out in the first half and for some reason did not execute,” Nicol said. “We gave up offensive rebounds and were tentative on offense. In the second half the girls came out with aggression and focus and turned up the defensive pressure.”
West Delaware was held to a single offensive rebound in the second half and Solon’s defensive pressure led to turnovers, Nicol added.
“We also had great bench play from Ali Herdliska who ended with 9 points and Emily Capper who was a co-leader in rebounds,” he said.
Rylee Smith and Kristen Purdy led the scoring with 13 and 11 points respectively Kristen Purdy had six steals and Rylee Smith had five. As a team, the Lady Spartans were 19-33 from the field (58 percent) and 5-7 from the 3-point line, with Kristen Purdy shooting 3-3.
The wins moved the Lady Spartans’ record to 6-2 overall, with five wins now strung together. Solon’s girls were scheduled to travel to Epworth Tuesday for a matchup against 6-1 Western Dubuque, and play a boys’ and girls’ doubleheader before winter break at Mid-Prairie Thursday, Dec. 20.