Your Prep Sports
MAQUOKETA – A remarkable turnaround is sure to reap future dividends for the Solon boys’ basketball team.
One year after posting just seven wins, the Class 3A eighth-ranked Spartans – under first-year Coach Jared Galpin, the third head coach for the Solon seniors – got within a game of their first state tournament berth in five years.
It took a rugged, unbeaten state returnee in second-ranked Monticello to vanquish Solon’s state tournament aspirations.
“They just have a lot of disciplined, defensive players,” Solon senior Ben Cusick said after the Spartans were eliminated by Monticello in a 3A substate final, 45-39, Monday night at Maquoketa High School. “I know a few of them. They are all really tough, they are all pretty good. They are going to do good at state. They are coached well. They are coached the right way. They are a really good squad.”
Solon (21-3) was undone by a rough second quarter.
Trailing 9-7, the start of the second frame was delayed 20 minutes after Solon assistant coach Matt Morrison suffered an epileptic seizure following the completion of the first quarter.
As medical personnel tended to Morrison, both teams were sent back to the locker rooms. Morrison delivered a few fist-bumps to his fellow coaches before being transported to the hospital for further evaluation.
“He’s fine,” Galpin said. “He’ll be fine. … The guys are concerned about him, obviously. To see your coach go down like that, it is a little shocking. We wanted to get them off the floor and just reassure them he was going to be okay. ‘Mo’ was going to be okay. He told us he was fine.”
Following the delay, Monticello outscored Solon, 13-1, and took a 22-8 lead into the halftime locker room.
“I am not going to make excuses, I don’t know,” Galpin said when asked if how the delay affected the second quarter performance. “It might have. I don’t know. We were pretty locked in. It could have, I don’t know. I am not going to make excuses.”
There was 3:38 left in the third quarter before Solon reached double figures in scoring against a Monticello defense that surrendered just 34.3 points per game entering Monday.
Monticello (22-0) pushed its lead to 16 points at 27-11 with 3:16 left in the third quarter before Solon made a charge. An 8-0 Solon surge cut the deficit to six points at 28-22 with 7:15 to go.
“It just took heart,” said Cusick, who scored all of his team-high 12 points after halftime. “Especially from us seniors. Dealing with three different coaches. Been through a lot of adversity, there was nothing new. We have been down a lot this year, we have been able to come back. Tonight just wasn’t the night.”
Solon got no closer than five points in the game’s final seconds.
Cusick also led the Spartans with eight rebounds, while fellow senior David Bluder chipped in seven points.
Monticello senior guard Ty Kehoe led the Panthers – which reached the 2A state tournament last season but were bounced in the quarterfinal round – with 16 points by consistently driving to the basket.
“I have been doing that the past couple of games,” Kehoe said. “I have been attacking the hole more and dishing more. Tonight, it was the same thing. I just kept doing it and kept doing it and open holes happened and I was able to get to the rim.”
Fellow Monticello senior Justin Recker added 11 points with five rebounds.
The five Panthers’ starters played all 32 minutes of the game.
While Solon will graduate eight seniors, a new standard of toughness and defense has clearly been established for the returners and new faces in 2021-22.
“These guys laid the foundation of what our teams are going to be built on,” Galpin said. “It was all predicated on how tough they played and how well they played together.”
Solon 7 1 8 23 – 39
Monticello 9 13 5 18 – 45
Monticello (45) – Justin Recker 4-11 3-5 11, Luke Lambert 0-3 3-5 3, Connor Lambert 2-3 1-1 6, Ty Kehoe 4-5 8-11 16, Tate Petersen 2-5 4-4 9. Totals 12-27 19-26 45.
Solon (39) – Will Noonan 1-5 0-0 2, Kinnick Pusteoska 2-3 0-2 4, Carson Shive 1-4 2-4 5, Ben Cusick 5-8 1-2 12, David Bluder 3-7 1-1 7, Bo Janssen 1-1 1-2 3, Jake Quillan 2-7 0-1 4, Drew Turner 1-1 0-0 2, Jacob Timmons 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-36 5-12 39.
Three-point goals – Monticello 2-11 (C. Lambert 1-2, Petersen 1-3, L. Lambert 0-2, Recker 0-3), Solon 2-9 (Cusick 1-1, Shive 1-1, Quillin 0-3, Noonan 0-4). Rebounds – Monticello 22 (C. Lambert, Recker 5), Solon 23 (Cusick 8). Total fouls – Monticello 10, Solon 24. Fouled out – Solon (Noonan, Shive). Technical fouls – None.