SOLON– They played hard, they were in the game, but they couldn’t quite finish.
It’s been a familiar theme for the Solon boys’ basketball team, which dropped home games to the conference’s top two teams last week.
The Spartans hosted Mount Vernon Tuesday in a 37-31 loss and suffered a similar fate Friday night when Western Dubuque of Epworth rolled into town, 59-52.
Solon had the lead going into the fourth quarter against Mount Vernon, but another cold offensive quarter helped the Mustangs close out. The Spartans held a 19-14 halftime advantage in what Head Coach Brad Randall called a very physical game.
“I thought we played better than we did the first time (Dec. 16),” Randall said. “But it’s very hard to win games when you only score five points in the fourth quarter.”
Offensive inefficiency continued to play a role in Solon’s misfortunes. The Spartans were 10-43 from the field and 9-14 from the line. Mount Vernon shot only slightly better, 14-39 from the field and 7-8 from the stripe.
Joe Weeks led the scoring for Solon with 11 points and Rory Siddell had 10. Jake Morris had 10 rebounds to pace the Spartans.
When Western Dubuque came to town, Solon fell behind 16-9 in the first quarter and was down 32-24 at the half. Randall, however, was pretty pleased with his team’s performance.
“If we played with that will the majority of our games, we would have won a few more,” he said. The team executed well, had its chances at some very good shots, but just couldn’t cash in, he added.
Weeks led the scoring and rebounding for Solon with 13 points and 13 boards. Ryan Kunkel added 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench. While only 2-12 from behind the three-point arc, Solon shot 21-44 from the field overall, but made only eight of 18 free throw attempts. The Spartans out-rebounded Western Dubuque 32-24.
“If we could just play a complete 32 minutes,” Randall lamented. “I think we’re due.”
The Spartans have lost three in a row heading into the last five games of the season, but only one will be on the road. Solon travels to Dyersville Beckman Tuesday, Jan. 31 and then hosts Maquoketa Friday, Feb. 3.
“That’s a game that’s been in the back of my mind for a long time,” Randall said of Maquoketa. Solon lost the first meeting after leading by three points going into the fourth quarter. “I thought that was a turning point,” he noted.
The Spartans close out the regular season at home with games against Anamosa (Feb. 7), Vinton-Shellsburg (Feb. 10) and Williamsburg (Feb. 16).