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Lady Spartans claim 33-17 victory over Mustangs, first since 2009

SOLON– Highway 1 rival Mount Vernon visited Solon on Tuesday, Jan. 7, for the first of two varsity girls’ basketball match ups between the two teams in the span of 14 days. The Mustangs galloped back home reeling, 33-17, courtesy of a stout Lady Spartan defensive effort. It was the first time the Lady Spartans’ basketball team emerged victorious facing the Mustangs since Dec. 11, 2009.
“Game was about what I was expecting,” Head Coach Jamie Smith commented. “Rivalry game, two teams playing hard. The last four minutes of the first quarter was well played by us.”
The Lady Spartans leaped out to a 14-4 lead in the first quarter thanks to strong defensive play. Several times during the quarter the Mustangs were called for five-second violations, the result of Solon’s full-court press. With a little more than 7:45 remaining, the Mustangs’ Natalie Welch gave Mount Vernon a two-point lead. The back end of a pair of MaKinley “Mak” Levin free throws and a three-pointer by Kaia Holtkamp elevated the Lady Spartans before Mount Vernon’s Bethany Richardson tied the game, 4-4, with a little over four minutes remaining. Another three by Holtkamp less than 30 ticks later gave Solon a 7-4 lead. A deuce by Jenna LaDage almost 40 second later and Solon was ahead, 9-4. LaDage shot a three and provided an assist for another Holtkamp jump shot giving Solon a 14-4 lead.
Coach Smith was pleased with the team’s performance against the Mustangs.
“I thought Jenna (LaDage) played a very good overall game,” he said. “Kaia (Holtkamp) played with a lot of confidence on both ends of the court. I really liked the way we got up and played defense. Offensively, we did a good job against a very good defensive team. (Holtkamp) hit a three then (Ladage) got a steal and made a pass to (Holtkamp) who finished to put us up 10 late in first quarter. Thought that was big.”
Solon outscored Mount Vernon 6-3 in the second quarter for a halftime score of 20-7. The Mustangs’ Liz Dougherty scored on half of a pair of free throws and Summer Brand put in a jump shot for Mount Vernon’s three and Solon’s six came courtesy of a pillar to post drive by “Mak” Levin, an assist to Mak gave the Lady Spartans another two, and Jenna LaDage provided the final two with a driving layup with about 59 ticks remaining.
The halftime saw a scrimmage practice by fourth- and fifth-grade local girls teams providing the Solon faithful in attendance a vision of the future as commentary and introductions for both teams were presented courtesy of the voice of the Spartans Don Ellis.
Solon protected its lead matching the Mustangs in the third quarter with five points for each team and a 25-12 lead going into the final quarter.
Solon outmatched the Mustangs 8-5 in the final quarter and Jenna LaDage protected the ball as the final seconds ticked away with a huge smile on her face as Solon dealt the final blow, ending a Spartan drought dating back to Dec. 11, 2009.
Coach Smith joked a bit, pleased with another momentum-building home game, the first of 2020.
“Well, better than losing I guess,” he chuckled.
Coach Smith confessed the team might be short-handed once again, Emma Bock and Hillary Wilson were not in uniform, injured, on the bench.
“Bock is out for the season,” he commented. “We will evaluate Wilson weekly. No return date set.”
He was quick to dismiss this as being a cause for concern.
“We don’t use things we can't control as excuses,” he pointed out. “Would having them back help? Sure, it would but they aren't. Teams aren't going to feel sorry for us and we aren't going to feel sorry for ourselves. We have a team that works hard and that’s what we will keep doing, no matter what.”
Holtkamp led all scorers on the court with 17 points while the Mustangs’ Brand led her team with six points. LaDage contributed seven points, Levin was responsible for five and Jada Buffington and Elly Holubar contributed two apiece.
LaDage led the Spartans in rebounds with seven, two offensive and five defensive. She also led the team in assists and steals with four and six respectively.
Levin led the Lady Spartans with two blocked shots.
The Lady Spartans out-shot the Mustangs, making 14-38 field goals (36.8 percent) compared to Mount Vernon’s 7-31 (22.6 percent). Solon was 25 percent from three-point range (4-16) while the Mustangs were 1-9 (11.1 percent). Mount Vernon shot 2-8 (25 percent) from the line compared to Solon’s 1-2 (50 percent). The Mustangs out-rebounded Solon with 24 (four offensive and 20 defensive) over the Lady Spartans’ 20 (four offensive and 16 defensive). Solon pilfered the ball 14 times compared to Mount Vernon’s five steals and Solon racked up 14 assists compared to the Mustangs’ three. Solon blocked four shots and Mount Vernon only recorded two. The turnovers were key for the Lady Spartans as they limited themselves to 14 while prompted 29 turnovers by the Mustangs.
The Friday, Jan. 10, game at West Delaware (1-9) was postponed due to inclement weather until Monday, Jan. 13, and the Lady Spartans traveled to Williamsburg (1-8) on Tuesday, Jan. 14. They return to Solon High School to host Maquoketa (8-2) on Friday, Jan. 17, with varsity tip off at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, they play at Central Dewitt High School (9-1) at 6 p.m. and then they meet Mount Vernon again, this time at Mount Vernon, on Friday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. The Lady Spartans travel to Iowa City Regina (6-2) on Saturday, Jan. 25, for a 4:30 p.m. tip-off, then host Marion (8-0) on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, it is back on the bus to Beckman Catholic (6-5) for a 7:30 p.m. game.
Coach Smith dismissed any notion the extended road tour would affect the Lady Spartans’ preparations.
“We have no choice,” he explained. “We will prep as well as we can. But we are more worried about us. With the time available, we will try to get better at what we do.”
Coach Smith affirmed his focus remains on one game at a time when asked about meeting Mount Vernon yet again this month.
“Haven't even thought about it,” he responded.
Statistics for the article are courtesy of Quikstatsiowa.com and the Varsity Bound- Iowa High School Sports app on Dec. 12.

Solon 33, Mount Vernon 17 game results courtesy of Quickstatsiowa.com, Jan. 12:
Points– Holtkamp 17, Ladage 7, Levin 5, Buffington 2, Holubar 2.
Rebounds (Off.,Def.)– LaDage 7 (2,5), Holubar 4 (2,2), Levin 3 (0,3), Holtkamp 2 (0,2), Stebral 1 (0,1), 2 defensive unassigned.
Assists– LaDage 4, Holtkamp 2, Stebral 2, Buffington 1, Levin 1.
Steals– Ladage 6, Holtkamp 3, Levin 2, Buffington 1, Holubar 1, Stebral 1.
Blocks– Levin 2, LaDage 1, Stebral 1.