In three games last week, the Solon boys’ basketball team was victorious in all, with two home battles. The Spartans stopped West Delaware, 56-40, Jan. 4 and then took out Beckman Catholic, 54-43, Jan. 7. Their lone road game came at the Coe College Classic was an overtime decision over Fairfield, 50-44.
In the West Delaware game, the Spartans built a 30-17 halftime advantage with a solid second quarter of scoring. They went into it up 12-9 and outpointed the Hawks 18-8 for the halftime mark.
Their defensive effort continued in the third as they held the visitors to a mere four points, going into the final frame up 42-21.
“I was pleased with the win,” coach Jared Galpin said. “We have made a point of starting fast. The guys came out ready to play and got out to a good start. I thought we did a decent job of guarding and were patient on the offensive side of the ball. We didn’t finish the game as well as we wanted, but it was great to come out after the break with a win.”
Jake Benzing led totals with 15 (three treys) and Kinnick Pusteoska added 11. Jacob Timmons hit nine, Gehrig Turner six, Oaken Foster five (one), Brady Mullen and Sean Stahle (one) four, Cayden Knipper two.
Other stats include: rebounds — Foster seven, Pusteoska six, Mullen and Turner four, Timmons three, Stahle, Knipper and Carson Miller two, Benzing one; blocks — Timmons one; steals — Turner three, Benzing and Timmons two, Foster and Pusteoska one; assists — Turner four, Timmons three, Benzing two, Puzsteoska, Foster, Mullen and Miller one.
That defensive effort continued Jan. 7 in the second half against Beckman, when the Spartans turned a 23-19 deficit into the final tally. In the third quarter, they held the Blazers to just two points, while putting in 15. That was the game.
“Again, we got off to a good start. Beckman is a good team with a great tradition. They play tough defense and have two of the best scorers in the conference,” Galpin said.
“Perimeter shots weren’t falling for us in the first and second quarter. We were able to keep the game close with our defense.
“Brady Mullen made a layup right at the end of the half to put us down four. We made some adjustments at half and executed our offense well. Oaken Foster hit a three right away in the third quarter and Jake Benzing hit two threes. Our confidence grew and it helped our energy on defense. Sean Stahle was great on defense.”
The Spartans used scoring from eight players to counteract Beckman’s leading scorer, Padraig Gallagher and his 19 points (two). Pusteoska hit 13 for the Spartans, Benzing 10 (two), Mullen nine (one), Stahle seven (one), Foster six (two), Timmons five, Miller and Turner two.
Other stats were: rebounds — Pusteoska nine, Foster six, Timmons five, Miller four, Stahle, Turner and Benzing three, Mullen and Knipper one; blocks — Benzing, Pusteoska, Mullen and Timmons one; steals — Stahle and Timmons two; assists — Pusteoska four, Benzing three, Turner two, Timmons, Foster and Stahle one.
The third win of the week came at Coe College but they needed overtime to take out Fairfield.
“Short turnaround games are tough, but like I told the team, ‘At state you have three games in four days.’ So we needed to celebrate the big win Friday night and get refocused on Saturday,” Galpin said.
“It wasn’t the cleanest game we played. We made a lot of unforced errors. Jake Benzing kept us close in the first half by scoring 10 of our 15 points. He ended the game with 17.
“We came out in the third quarter and took a lead. But mistakes early in the fourth quarter gave the lead back to Fairfield. We were down four with 30 seconds to go. We got a couple of steals. Jacob Timmons hit two free throws and Jake Benzing hit a jump shot to tie the game with six seconds to go that sent the game to overtime.
“We took control early in the overtime. Brady Mullen hit a three and had a great baseline layup to extend our lead.
“It wasn’t a pretty game. It was great to see us come out on the winning side. Defense travels when the offense doesn’t. We make a point of emphasis to guard every game. When shots aren’t falling, defense will keep us in the game. The guys have bought into that mentality,” he added.
Fairfield’s Max Wheaton led all scorers with 23, but again balance gave the Spartans the win. Benzing dumped 17 (two), Pusteoska nine, Timmons eight, Stahle six, Mullen five (one), Turner three (one), Logan Sieverding two.
Other stats were: rebounds — Pusteoska seven, Timmons six, Benzing three, Foster and Turner two, Mullen, Sieverding and Grant Gerdin one; blocks — Stahle one; steals — Benzing and Timmons five, Turner three, Mullen two, Knipper, Stahle, Foster and Pusteoska one; assists — Pusteoska three, Timmons, Benzing and Stahle two and Foster one.
Solon will be at Mount Vernon Friday, Jan. 14 at 7:15 p.m. and will host Marion Tuesday, Jan. 18 at 7:15 p.m.