Your Prep Sports
SOLON – Over the last month and a half of the regular season Solon has established roles, ironed out details and fine tuned its offense and defense.
The only thing left for the Spartans to do in the postseason is win.
“I think we are coming together as a team more and playing as a team and guys have figured out their roles,” Solon junior Jake Benzing said. “It’s just time to win now.”
On Monday Solon translated its late regular-season push into its first postseason win, pulling away from upset-minded Keokuk 63-54 in a Class 3A, Substate 6 quarterfinal in Solon.
Benzing led three Solon players in double figures with 18 points as the Spartans extended their winning streak to eight and won for the 13th time in the past 15 games.
Solon (17-5) will travel to Mount Pleasant (18-5) for a Substate 6 semifinal on Thursday after the Panthers survived for a 40-38 win over six-win Fort Madison in a quarterfinal.
“A win is a win and from here on out it really doesn’t matter how we get it done,” Benzing said. “We are just trying to get five more now.”
Solon trailed 16-15 after the opening quarter on Monday as Keokuk (7-16) hit 6-of-8 field goal attempts in the opening quarter.
The Spartans broke an 18-all tie with a 9-2 run to close the first half, limiting Keokuk to just two points over the final 6:17 of the second quarter.
Keokuk made just 2-of-8 field goal attempts and had seven of its 11 turnovers in the second quarter as Solon took a 27-20 halftime lead.
“I think we were more locked in on defense,” Benzing said. “Our zone was a little off in the first quarter and they were getting good looks inside but we adjusted to that and played better defense.”
The Spartans began to pull away in the third quarter pushing the lead to 47-27 on a Rylen Stiegelmeyer 3-pointer with 2:15 remaining.
Solon shot 41 percent from the field in the opening half but was 8-of-18 in a 22-point third quarter that helped the Spartans put the game away.
“We are playing better together and that’s the biggest thing,” Solon coach Jared Galpin said. “We are starting to gel and we are playing better together defensively and offensively and we are just sharing the ball more and that’s leading to high percentage shots for us.”
Keokuk made one final run, an 11-0 spurt to end the third and start the fourth quarter that cut the lead to 49-41.
Benzing stopped the run with a putback and scored on a jumped in the paint to push the lead back to double digits at 56-46 with 3:40 remaining.
“Once we kind of got used to their zone our offense started flowing better so we were getting better shots,” Benzing said. “We were moving the ball better on offense in the second half.”
Gehrig Turner had 13 points and Vince Steinbrech added 10 for Solon as the Spartans shot 40 percent from the field in the game.
Diego Garcia had a game-high 19 points for Keokuk while Blake Chase had 11 for the Chiefs.
“Third was really big for us to extend that lead,” Galpin said. “They are a good team, they came back and they fought. I knew this was going to be a challenging game because they play that 2-3 zone, Diego is a heck of a player, so I knew it was going to be a challenging game because we just don’t see that much zone. We were able to keep the lead in the first half and extend it in the third.”
Keokuk 16 4 14 20 – 54
Solon 15 12 22 14 – 63
Keokuk (54) – Diego Garcia 7-14 4-8 19, Chase Eckland 1-2 0-0 3, Jaxon Clark 1-3 0-0 2, Liam O’Donnell 2-5 0-0 5, Blake Chase 5-11 0-0 13, Drew Campbell 0-1 0-0 0, Brenton Hoard 4-11 1-2 12, Totals 20-44 5-10 54.
Solon (63) – Sean Stahle 4-9 0-1 9, Austin Knight 0-2 0-0 0, Rylen Stiegelmeyer 1-6 0-0 3, Cole Buffington 1-2 0-0 2, Vince Steinbrech 3-7 3-3 10, Jake Benzing 7-17 0-0 18, Oaken Foster 4-7 0-0 8, Gehrig Turner 3-5 6-8 13, Will Cusick 0-2 0-0 0, Totals 23-57 9-12 63.
3-point field goals – SOL 8-24 (Stahle 1-3, Knight 0-1, Stiegelmeyer 1-5, Buffington 0-1, Steinbrech 1-3, Benzing 4-6, Foster 0-2, Turner 1-2, Cusick 0-1), KEO 9-19 (Garcia 1-2, Eckland 1-2, O’Donnell 1-1, Chase 3-7, Campbell 0-1, Hoard 3-6). Rebounds – SOL 32 (Foster, Turner 7), KEO 24 (Garcia 6). Turnovers – SOL 11, KEO 14. Total fouls – SOL 8, KEO 12. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – None.