Your Prep Sports
SOLON – Carson Shive new it was only a matter of time before Maquoketa caught on to what Solon wanted to do on offense.
That is sort of expected when you play the same team three times in a little more than three weeks.
Just as Shive anticipated Maquoketa took Solon out of its rhythm early on Thursday in the Class 3A, Substate 4 semifinal.
However, it was the Spartans’ ability to adapt that proved to be the difference.
Eighth-ranked Solon made its halftime adjustments pay off exploding for 36 points in the final 13 minutes of a 63-50 win over Maquoketa (8-14) in Solon.
“Eventually we knew they were going to figure us out and they did in some aspects obviously but we sort of improvised on the fly,” Shive said. “The fact we have the experience to do that makes us a really tough team to play.”
Shive scored a game-high 19 points and Ben Cusick had all 15 of his points during the 13-minute Spartan scoring burst to end the game as Solon (21-1) advanced to the Substate 4 title game where it will face second-ranked Monticello (21-0) on Monday at 7 p.m.
Monticello advanced with a 54-37 win over Central DeWitt on Thursday.
“We were trying to get it inside-out and they got on a roll and we weren’t hitting shots and we had to figure out a new game plan,” Shive said. “I think we did a really good job of that we had to do something different after they took stuff away.”
Solon shot 31 percent in the first half and was outrebounded 26-19 but still led 24-20 at halftime thanks to a 7-0 burst to close the first half.
“We had to make some changes, things weren’t going the way we wanted them to go in the first half,” Solon coach Jared Galpin said. “On a positive note we had a four-point lead still but we just had to clean some stuff up and our kids work hard and that’s the reason we are where we are.”
The initial game plan for Solon was to work the ball into the post but after Maquoketa held Cusick and Kinnick Pusteoska to two points on combined 0-of-6 shooting from the field in the first two quarters the Spartans made an adjustment.
“We were planning on really trying to work it inside but obviously that wasn’t working so the faster we moved the ball the faster they had to move defensively and eventually they were going to be out of position,” Shive said. “That’s how we got our quick drives, kick outs and dish downs.”
The change in strategy paid off for the Spartans.
Solon trailed 31-27 with under five minutes to play in the third quarter before rattling off a 10-0 run to take the lead for good.
“They seem to absorb stuff so well,” Galpin said of the second-half adjustments. “I can tell them something and they just visualize what I’m saying or I can draw something up and they can execute it.”
Solon took a 40-33 lead into the fourth quarter after Shive buried his third three-pointer of the game from the corner with five seconds left in the quarter.
“That was kind of the dagger,” Shive said. “That really gave us a cushion and we were able to get down and play defense and get some stops.”
Maquoketa trailed just 48-45 after a driving layup by Connor Becker with 4:05 left but Solon scored the next 15 points to put the game away.
“We are all seniors now and we’ve been playing together since fourth grade,” Shive said. “We know how to play together and where we are all going to be.”
The win was the fifth straight for Solon and completed the three-game season sweep of the Cardinals.
Maquoketa led Solon at the half in each of the first two meetings, a seven-point Spartan win in January and an 11-point win in Maquoketa earlier this month.
They were up 10 and eight on us at halftime the first two game so we knew they could score so we just had to make them earn everything instead of giving them shots,” Galpin said. “The biggest thing for us was just doing what we do.”
Caiden Atienza had a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead Maquoketa while David Bluder had eight points, all in the second half for Solon.
Nine Solon players scored on Thursday with Will Noonan adding six points and Pusteoska five.
“This year we are sharing the ball a lot more,” Shive said. “There is not one person scoring, every other game there is someone else scoring 10 points. That just makes us that much better.”
Maquoketa 8 12 13 17 – 50
Solon 9 15 16 23 – 63
Solon (63) – Jake Quillin 1-2 0-0 2, Jacob Timmons 1-1 0-0 3, Will Noonan 2-5 2-2 6, Kinnick Pusteoska 1-7 3-4 5, Carson Shive 7-13 2-2 19, Ben Cusick 4-8 6-8 15, David Bluder 3-9 2-2 8, Bo Janssen 1-3 0-0 2, Drew Turner 1-1 1-2 3, Brock Riemers 0-2 0-0 0, Totals 21-51 16-20 63.
Maquoketa (50) – Connor Becker 3-9 0-0 6, Max Keller 1-4 1-2 4, Brady Digmann 2-5 3-4 9, Caiden Atienza 6-15 4-4 16, Casey Coakley 1-4 3-4 6, Mitchell Roeder 0-2 0-2 0, Kaleb Whaley 0-3 0-1 0, Tye Hardin 2-3 0-0 4, Ethan Combs 2-7 1-2 5, Totals 17-52 12-19 50.
3-point field goals – SOL 5-11 (Timmons 1-1, Noonan 0-2, Shive 3-4, Cusick 1-1, Bluder 0-2), MAQ 4-12 (Becker 0-3, Keller 1-1, Digmann 2-3, Atienza 0-2, Coakley 1-1, Whaley 0-1, Hardin 0-1). Rebounds – SOL 32 (Pusteoska 8), MAQ 39 (Atienza 12). Turnovers – SOL 10, MAQ 15. Total fouls – SOL 17, MAQ 16. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – None.