By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – Facing a stretch of five games in seven days Solon coach Jason Pershing knew his team would have to come up with different ways to win games.
So far, the Spartans have done just that.
Solon used its defense to get a road win at Western Dubuque on Friday and took advantage of some hot shooting and late free throws to down Regina on Saturday.
On Monday, the Spartans used a monster performance from senior Jake Coons to win its third straight game in a little more than 72 hours.
Coons scored a season-high 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as Solon held off a late Maquoketa rally for a 71-60 win in a makeup of a WAMAC East Division tilt originally scheduled for Jan. 10.
“It’s sort of like an AAU tournament where you just play back-to-back-to-back,” Coons said. “You are just trying to play and just trying to battle and find ways to win.”
Coons led three Solon players in double figures as the Spartans improved to 9-4 on the season and 6-3 in WAMAC East play.
Luke Ira had 15 points and freshman AJ Coons added 10 for Solon which has won three in a row after opening January with three straight losses.
“When you take a bad loss, you do one of two things you either dial in and focus and get better or you hang your head and these kids don’t hang their heads,” Pershing said. “They don’t know how to do that.”
When Solon needed someone to make a couple of free throws to clinch the win over Regina on Saturday Jake Coons did it.
In need of someone to carry the load in the second half against the Cardinals on Monday it was the older Coons that stepped up again.
The 6-foot-4 senior scored 16 of his team-high 24 points in the second half including seven in the fourth quarter as Solon held off a late Maquoketa push.
“Jake was amazing,” Pershing said. “He was exactly what we’ve expected from him and it’s kind of what his teammates expect. They really look for him for leadership and how well he defends and the rebounding and all of it. It was just amazing.”
Solon hit its first four shots, including 3-pointers from Ira and senior Zach Cusick, to take an early 15-8 lead just more than five minutes into the game.
The Spartans were 9-of-17 from the field in the first quarter while building a 21-10 lead.
“It was big for us to get up early,” Ira said. “With a lot of games here it’s hard to try to come back from behind so it was important to play with a lead.”
The early lead did more than give the Spartans a needed cushion on the scoreboard it spread out the Maquoketa zona which allowed Coons to operate freely in the paint.
Coons was consistently alone in the center of the zone, his teammates found him ofter and the senior forward converted.
“That has been one of the emphasis for us over the last couple of weeks is trying to work on our offense against the zone,” Coons said. “We are just trying to work the ball, get good ball movement and play as a team.”
Coons made 9-of-13 field goals on Monday, including 5-of-6 in the second half.
He had nine straight points for Solon in the third quarter to give the Spartans a 48-33 lead.
“We found out as the game went on that he was making his shots,” Ira said. “He was doing a good job in there so we just kept feeding him.”
Maquoketa trimmed what was as much as a 17-point deficit to 56-52 with 4:15 left on a pair of Abe Kinrade free throws but Solon answered with 6-2 run that featured four points from Coons and Maquoketa never got closer than five points the rest of the game.
A 6-foot-7 Air Force recruit, Kinrade scored 13 of his game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter to keep the Cardinals in it but Solon put the game away hitting 14-of-16 free throws in the final quarter.
Coons was 5-of-6 while Ira made all five of his free throw attempts all coming in the final three minutes.
“We have shot free throws really well the last three games,” Pershing said. “With some tired legs from three games in four nights we shot the ball well and shot the ball well from the line.”
Maquoketa 10 16 11 23 – 60
Solon 21 16 22 23 – 71
Maquoketa (60) – Lucas Brame 0-1 0-0 0, Kane Kopp 1-1 0-0 2, Macklin Shanahan 4-9 6-7 17, Abram Becker 3-8 0-0 7, Austin Schmidt 2-6 1-2 6, Abraham Kinrade 10-21 5-6 27, Max Becker 0-7 1-2 1, Kyle Davison 0-1 0-0 0, Jaydon Whaley 0-3 0-0 0, Tea 20-57 13-17 60.
Solon (71) – Ben Krutzfeldt 1-4 2-2 5, Jake Coons 9-13 6-8 24, Jack Stahle 1-1 0-1 2, Sterling McIlravy 3-6 0-0 6, AJ Coons 4-9 2-3 10, Luke Ira 4-8 5-5 15, Andrew Steffens 0-1 0-1 9, Zach Cusick 3-8 1-2 9, Team 25-50 16-22 71.
3-point field goals – SOL (Krutzfeldt 1-4, AJ Coons 0-1, Ira 2-5, Steffens 0-1, Cusick 2-7) MAQ 7-21 (Brame 0-1, Shanahan 2-5, A. Becker 1-3, Schmidt 1-2, Kinrade 2-5, M. Becker 0-3, Whaley 0-2). Rebounds – SOL 41 (J. Coons 11), MAQ 30 (Kinrade 8). Turnover – SOL 17, MAQ 14. Total fouls – SOL 21, MAQ 20. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – None.