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Solon streak stays alive

Spartans take wins from Beckman and Maquoketa

SOLON– Sixteen wins in a row.
The varsity Spartans moved to 14-0 in the WaMaC Conference and 16-1 overall last week with basketball victories hosting Beckman Catholic and on the road at Maquoketa.
Every possession counted in the 38-36 win at home against Beckman Feb. 2.
“We knew coming in that this was going to be a tough game. Beckman is a team that guards hard,” Head Coach Jared Galpin said.
An early steal and layup by senior Carson Shive and two free throws by junior Jake Quillin gave Solon a very brief 15-14 lead in the second quarter, but the Trailblazers nudged out to a 22-20 halftime advantage.
The Spartans outscored the Blazers 18-14 in the second half, just enough to pull ahead.
“Getting a stop on our first defensive possession of the second half and David (Bluder) hitting a corner three got us off to a good start in the second half,” Galpin noted. “Carson Shive and Ben Cusick's defense on Padraig Gallagher was key. They made it difficult for him to get in the flow of the game.”
Gallagher, Beckman’s leading scorer, was held to only four points on 2-9 shooting.
Shive was the only Spartan in double-digits with 13 points, but he had support from Bluder with eight and Will Noonan with six.
Noonan added four assists and a blocked shot. Cusick was the leading rebounder with seven.
Shive was 2-2 from deep, and Solon shot 50 percent from the three-point line, while Beckman was 1-6. The Trailblazers held the edge on the boards (21-19) and turnovers (7-9).
“They have good guard play and two good posts. They like to play inside out as well,” Galpin said. “They are a well-coached team. They guard and are efficient on offense.”
On the road at Maquoketa Feb. 5, the Spartans turned the tables on the Cardinals in the third quarter and made 21-18 free throws in an 82-71 win.
“We shoot plenty of free throws in practice each day and it has helped during games,” Galpin asserted. “Our team free throw percentage has increased over the past four to five games. I am happy with the progress, especially since we are leading 3A in attempts and made free throws.”
Solon held a 17-16 edge after one period, but Maquoketa went on a run and took a 42-34 lead into the halftime break.
The Spartans exploded for 31 points in the third quarter to regain the lead, 65-60, heading into the fourth.
Bluder led four Solon players in double figures with 27 points, going 9-15 from the field and 5-5 at the free throw line. Senior Bo Janssen added 15 points off the bench and was 2-3 from three-point range. Cusick was 4-6 from the field and 5-6 at the stripe for 13 points and junior Kinnick Pusteoska chipped in 11 on 4-6 shooting (3-4 at the line). Noonan added nine points and was Solon’s leading rebounder with eight.
The Spartans as a team shot 54 percent from the field (27-50), while holding the Cardinals to 46.3 percent (25-54). Solon attempted 15 more free throws than Maquoketa.
“Our perimeter shooting has improved because we are taking good shots,” Galpin stated.
After a showdown against WaMaC East rival Mount Vernon on the road Feb. 9, the Spartans visit South Tama Friday, Feb. 12, then head for Center Point and a date with the Stormin’ Pointers Tuesday, Feb. 16. The regular season is scheduled to conclude at home Thursday, Feb. 18, against the Washington (IA) Demons.
“We want to continue to improve and get consistent in all aspects of the game,” Galpin said of the remaining schedule. “They guys have been preparing well and playing well together.”