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Your Prep Sports
SOLON – For the first three quarters Ben Krutzfeldt couldn’t seem to do anything right on Friday night.
When it mattered most the Solon senior point guard couldn’t do anything wrong.
Krutzfeldt hit two 3-points in the final 11 seconds, including the game-winner at the buzzer as Solon overcame a 10-point deficit in the final 66 seconds to down Marion 55-54 in a wild WAMAC cross-division matchup in Solon.
“I knew if we just kept fighting and fighting we would get a chance and we did,” Krutzfeldt said. “We got that chance and we executed it and that was huge.”
Krutzfeldt scored 14 of his team-high 16 points in the final 2:35 without missing a shot as Solon rallied from a 13-point fourth-quarter hole to improve to 2-0.
The final shot for Krutzfeldt was the biggest, a 23-foot triple from the right wing that came off an AJ Coons feed and just beat the horn.
“That’s awesome, that’s a senior that has been with us from day one that is a great kid,” Solon coach Jason Pershing said. “I’m really happy for him.”
The shot to remember for Krutzfeldt came after a start he’d like to forget.
Krutzfeldt made one of four field goal attempts in the first three quarters while fighting foul trouble that resulted largely from a pair of offensive foul calls.
He was the difference late, scoring 14 of the final 19 points for the Spartans all in the final 2:35.
“You never doubt a player like Ben,” Coons said. “Ben and I shoot together all the time and I knew it was just a matter of time before he started hitting shots.”
Marion (1-1) led 24-21 at the half and opened the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run, taking its biggest lead of the game at 46-33 on a jumper by Matthew Brase with 3:28 left.
Solon missed its first six fourth-quarter field goal attempts and committed six turnovers while going scoreless for nearly five minutes to open the final quarter.
“Early in the fourth we said we had to start extending the game,” Pershing said. “We said this is how we are going to get back into it, we are going to make this thing really ugly and that was the plan. At that point our offense was so bad that’s what we had to do.”
Solon trailed 50-40 after Alex Whalen hit a pair of free throws with 1:12 left.
Sophomore guard Cam Miller and Krutzfeldt combined to score 15 points over the final 66 seconds to orchestrate an improbable rally.
“We got a couple of big shots, we got a couple of deflections, they missed a couple of free throws, everything had to go right but these guys just compete,” Pershing said. “They compete at a high level all the time.”
Miller converted a layup with 1:06 left to cut the lead to eight and after Marion missed the front end of a one-and-one Krutzfeldt converted on a pair at the line to make it 50-44.
Marion made 1-of-2 free throws in four consecutive trips to the line over the final 47 seconds leaving the door open for a comeback.
Krutzfeldt trimmed the lead to 51-46 with a pair of free throws and Miller got the Spartans within striking distance at 52-49 with a 3-pointer with 29 seconds left.
Whalen hit one free throw two seconds later and on the ensuing Solon possession Coons grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked it to an open Krutzfeldt who hit his first 3-pointer of the game with 11 seconds left.
“A couple of years ago if I would have been put in that situation I probably wouldn’t not have made those shots,” Krutzfeldt said. “It was big and it felt great.”
Grant Meth hit the second of two free throws with 4 seconds left setting the stage for Krutzfeldt’s game winner.
Coons took the inbounds pass and drove toward the basket before flipping to Krutzfeldt.
“We were going to try to get an attack going toward the basket and if somebody helped off I was going to kick it out,” Coons said. “That’s what happened and Ben hit a big time shot.”
Ethan Yahr had 12 points and Coons finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds as Solon finished with a 37-22 rebounding edge.
That rebounding edge helped the Spartans offset 37 percent shooting from the field and 19 turnovers.
“It’s a huge win,” Krutzfeldt said. “I think this will really drive our guys and show that we aren’t out of any game.”
Chase Zielke had a game-high 18 to lead three Marion players in double figures.
“These guys have been with me since my first year, this is that signature game, I believe it,” Pershing said. “This is the one that all of a sudden when games get tight we can say we’ve been there.”
Solon 7 14 9 22 – 55
Marion 13 11 16 14 – 54
Solon (55) – Greg Brandt 0-1 0-0 0, Ben Krutzfeldt 4-8 6-6 16, Ethan Yahr 4-8 3-3 12, Jack Stahle 1-3 1-3 4, Luke Schaeckenbach 1-6 1-2 3, AJ Coons 5-11 1-1 11, Jackson Pipolo 0-3 0-0 0, Cam Miller 3-6 0-1 7, Clay Gerdin 0-0 2-2 2, Team 17-45 14-18 55.
Marion (54) – Alex Whalen 2-5 6-10 11, Chase Zielke 7-21 2-4 18, Matthew Brase 2-3 0-1 5, Jevin Manderscheid 3-6 3-5 10, Trevor Paulsen 2-4 0-0 5, Grant Meth 2-3 1-2 5, Team 18-42 12-22 54.
3-point field goals – SOL 5-16 (Brandt 0-1, Krutzfeldt 2-5, Yahr 1-3, Stahle 1-2, Coons 0-1, Miller 1-3, Pipolo 0-1); MAR 6-18 (Whalen, Zielke 2-7, Brase 1-2, Manderscheid 1-3, Paulsen 1-2). Rebounds – SOL 37 (Coons 11); MAR 22 (Whalen 5). Turnovers – SOL 19, MAR 9. Total fouls – SOL 22, MAR 16. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – None.