Your Prep Sports
SOLON – West Branch saw first-hand last Friday how important setting the tone early can be in a basketball game.
The Bears were on the wrong end of an 11-2 start in what ended as a lopsided loss to Class 2A top-ranked Monticello.
On Monday it was the Bears that were the tone setters.
West Branch limited Solon to two first-quarter points and never trailed on its way to a dominating 43-32 win over the Spartans in a non-conference contest in Solon.
“At Monticello on Friday we got down 11-2 right away and we couldn’t get out of that hole,” West Branch coach Kern said. “We told them before the game tonight we have to match their mentality and physicality from the get go and I thought our kids did that.”
West Branch got 15 points from sophomore point guard and 13 from senior guard Peyton Miller while improving to 8-7 on the season.
Where the Bears really excelled on Monday was on the defensive end.
West Branch limited Solon to 32 percent shooting, including just 1-of-13 from three-point range.
The 32 points were a season low for Solon (9-7) and the fewest for a Solon team since the Spartans scored 31 in a loss to Mount Vernon on January 24 of 2012.
“We knew this was going to be another challenge, our schedule this year we don’t have too many easy games and we knew this was going to be a hard game and we had to bear down on defense,” Miller said. “We switched to man and that has started to progress and you saw that tonight holding them to 32 points.”
Miller scored six points in the final :38 seconds of the opening quarter to break open a one-point game.
The senior guard hit his first of two three-pointers in the game with 38 seconds left and came up with a steal and layup while being fouled to give the Bears a 9-2 lead after one quarter.
“Having Solon as that game to springboard into the final part of the season is huge,” Miller said. “We wouldn’t have rather had anyone else tonight to spring us forward.”
Solon was just 4-of-20 from the field in the opening half as West Branch surged to a 20-8 halftime lead.
The Bears shot 42 percent from the floor in the opening half and 45 percent for the game, never letting Solon get closer than seven points in the second half.
“We were patient offensively tonight, we played four quarters and defensively it’s the best we’ve been all year,” Kern said. “We made the switch to man and our kids are really buying in to that.”
Solon scored the first five points of the third quarter to cut the lead to seven but West Branch answered with a 7-2 run fueled by an Arnaman three-pointer.
Arnaman had 13 of his team-high 15 points in the second half, including six free throws in the fourth quarter.
“We had a lot of intensity on defense and that led to offense too,” Arnaman said. “We took good shots on offense, we didn’t hurry we just had a good pace the whole game. We weren’t rushed at all.”
West Branch held a 27-22 rebounding edge led by Reese Trepanier with eight boards while Arnaman, Brady Knoop and Andy Henson all had four rebounds.
“Solon is a tough matchup, they are always physical and athletic and I think this will prepare us for the rest of the season,” Kern said. “Our kids brought it tonight and I was super proud of them.”
Kinnick Pusteoska had 15 points and eight rebounds for Solon but the rest of the Spartans combined to shoot 24 percent.
Solon 2 6 13 11 – 32
West Branch 9 11 14 9 – 43
Solon (32) – Jake Quillin 1-9 0-0 2, Brady Mullen 1-2 0-0 2, Jacob Timmons 2-4 0-0 5, Kinnick Pusteoska 6-10 3-4 15, Jake Benzing 1-12 0-0 2, Sean Stahle 1-2 0-0 2, Gehrig Turner 2-5 0-0 4, Totals 14-44 3-4 32.
West Branch (43) – Peyton Miller 5-7 1-1 13, Holden Arnaman 3-8 8-11 15, Brady Knoop 2-9 0-0 5, Andy Henson 2-5 1-2 6, Drake Berry 1-1 0-0 2, Reese Trepanier 1-1 0-0 2, Totals 14-31 10-14 43.
3-point field goals – SOL 1-13 (Quillin 0-3, Mullen 0-1, Timmons 1-2, Pusteoska 0-1, Benzing 0-6), WB 5-17 (Miller 2-4, Arnaman 1-6, Knoop 1-6, Henson 1-2). Rebounds – SOL 22 (Pusteoska 8), WB 27 (Trepanier 8). Turnovers – SOL 11, WB 12. Total fouls – SOL 17, WB 10. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – None.