SOLON– The Lady Spartans earned their first victory of the young basketball season after a clutch Alex Henry 3-pointer completed a comeback win against the Washington Demons Saturday, 47-46.
Solon improved to 1-3, and the win helped erase the bad taste from the previous evening when the Lady Spartans let a fourth quarter lead slip away against Center Point-Urbana (CP-U).
The Stormin’ Pointers ended up pulling away for a 6-point win against Solon Friday, 60-54. It was the third loss in a row for the Lady Spartans, having fallen at home to Western Dubuque Tuesday, Dec. 3, by a score of 53-42.
But the Solon girls have been steadily improving, according to head coach Tony Nicol.
“The girls just keep getting better at the team aspects of the game– playing together on offense and communicating on defense,” Nicol said. “We are continually getting good shots on the basket that don’t always fall which can be very difficult for morale. This team has done a much better job of not letting missed shots have a negative impact on the rest of their game.”
The Lady Spartans have averaged shooting just under 30 percent from the field, just over 30 percent from 3-point range, and about 50 percent from the free throw line.
Solon has been averaging over 30 rebounds, including second-chance opportunities thanks to double-digit offensive boards.
Hosting Western Dubuque, the Lady Spartans fell behind in the first quarter but managed to narrow the gap to two points by the half. Solon was outscored 32-23 in the second half. The Lady Spartans had balanced scoring but no players in double-figures. Sydney Lawson led with eight points, followed by Ali Herdliska with seven, and Rylee Smith and Shelby Gunnells each with six.
Solon improved against Center Point on the road Friday, battling neck and neck through the first three quarters. The Lady Spartans held a one-point advantage going into the final period, but were again outscored, 19-12.
Rylee Smith scored 12 points, while Nichole Oberthien and Gunnells each added 11.
They finally put it together Saturday against Washington.
“Saturday was one of those games where Washington has to feel like one slipped away,” Nicol said. “In the third quarter I felt that the grind from Friday night’s game in Center Point started to take a toll. The girls were having a hard time keeping energy going. The great thing about this team, though, is that they never stop playing hard.”
Rylee Smith made some big free throws to keep the Lady Spartans in the game, he said, and when Smith fouled out with about two minutes left, it meant that other girls had to step up.
“We ended up outscoring Washington 13-2 the last few minutes of the game which ended with senior Alex Henry hitting a 3-point basket to put us up by one point with five seconds left,” Nicol said.
Smith again led the Solon scoring with 12 points, including 6-6 from the free throw line. Freshman Josie Durr added 11 points. Henry finished with 6 points, hitting both of her 3-point attempts.
Smith had five steals and Durr four to lead the defense.
“I am not sure another area team has had the difficulty of schedule that we have had to start the season,” Nicol said. “If we can stay positive and continue to improve we have a chance to be a very good team.”
After a short road trip to play Mount Vernon Dec. 10, the Lady Spartans will enjoy a stretch of five consecutive home games beginning with Mid-Prairie Saturday, Dec. 14.