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Solon defeats Tipton Tigers in Class 3A Region 7 quarterfinal

Solon junior MaKinley "Mak" Levin drives into the paint laying in a shot and drawing a foul from a Tipton Tiger during the Lady Spartans' 75-39 victory over Tipton, at home, on Saturday, Feb. 13, in the Class 3A Region 7 quarterfinal game.

SOLON– On the eve of the Daytona 500, the Lady Spartans varsity basketball team squared off against the Tipton Tigers in a Class 3A Region 7 quarterfinal on Saturday, Feb. 13, on the home hardwood.
Solon freshman Callie Levin buried the accelerator for the Lady Spartans in the first half with 16 of her game-high 25 points, including a 12-point run in the first quarter, to give Solon the lead and never look back until the checkered flag, 75-39.
Hilary Wilson started the scoring for Solon with a breakaway layup for a 2-0 lead a little less than a minute into the game and it was off to the races from there. The Lady Spartans dominated the first quarter building a 26-13 lead. At the half, Solon held a prevailing 45-25 margin. The Tigers floundered, 59-31, at the end of three and succumbed to Solon, 75-39. The Lady Spartans’ starters cheered on their teammates as they scored into the final minutes.
Callie Levin also collected three rebounds, six assists and five steals along with her game-high 25 points leading Solon to the quarterfinal victory in her first postseason appearance. Elder sister MaKinley “Mak” Levin poured in 16 points and added a pair of offensive and a pair of defensive rebounds. Kaia Holtkamp put up 12 points, grabbed two rebounds and added two assists. Jada Buffington added seven points including an offensive rebound and a steal. Elly Holubar and Claire LaDage scored four points apiece with Holubar leading Solon’s rebounding success with 11 boards (four offensive) and LaDage grabbed six rebounds. Hailey Miller scored three points for the Lady Spartans, battled for two boards, accrued two assists and three steals. Ava Stebral and Hilary Wilson each added two points with Stebral amassing two assists and Wilson adding one assist and a steal.
The Lady Spartans only had four turnovers in the game and committed a total of 18 fouls.
Even with the solid lead for most of the game, Head Coach Jamie Smith professed he remains concerned until the final buzzer sounds.
“I guess it’s the coach in me,” he confided.
Coach Smith also affirmed the Tigers played a good game and no special preparation was involved for the quarterfinal match.
“I thought they did a good job of back-dooring us,” he explained. “We didn’t do anything special for them. We prepared just like we have all year. I thought we did a great job moving the ball and getting out into transition.”
The win moves the Lady Spartans’ season record to 16-5 and advances Solon to a Class 3A Region 7 semifinal against the Monticello Panthers (16-5) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 17, at Solon High School, with the winner of the game meeting either the Assumption Knights (6-11) or the Center Point-Urbana Stormin’ Pointers (15-6), for the regional championship on Feb. 20, at the highest-ranking school.
Coach Smith allowed the semifinal game will be a welcome challenge for the Lady Spartans at home in front of the Spartan Nation.
“We have done some scouting and they played some similar opponents, so we have seen them. We will take Monday and Tuesday to prepare and we will be ready to go Wednesday night,” he affirmed.
He added the Lady Spartans’ locker room was emotional following the win.
“The players were excited for the win and excited to be playing Wednesday,” he stated.
Coach Smith reflected on if the win in the quarterfinals figured into the program’s preseason expectation and if he felt it made any sort of statement as the first playoff victory for the Lady Spartans since 2016.
“Only expectation we had was keep getting better and we have,” he responded. “We have got better, every week, and that’s why we are still playing Wednesday. I guess if there is a statement, it is we are a pretty good team.”