Boys Basketball Notebook: Ira Returns to Boost Strong Solon Backcourt


Jeff Yoder Photo /

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

SOLON – Through the first few weeks of the season Solon proved to have the pieces of a team capable of contending in the WAMAC East division title race.

Before the conference title picture could begin taking shape Solon added a big piece back into its arsenal.

Senior guard Luke Ira returned to the Solon lineup last Tuesday after missing the first four games with a broken bone in his leg sustained during football season.

“I think we have the pieces to be really good,” Ira said. “We have a lot of really good basketball players we just have to put all the pieces together.”

Solon went 3-1 without Ira, a three-year starter and one of the top shooters in the conference.

The Spartans are 4-2 on the season and 2-2 in WAMAC East play entering a key divisional matchup with West Delaware on Tuesday.

Solon gets its first shot at the defending champion Hawks at home and back at full strength with Ira in the lineup.

“It’s huge to get him back because there is a confidence there that all the other guys play a little bit better with him on the floor,” Solon coach Jason Pershing said. “He doesn’t have to say anything there is just a quiet confidence there.”

Ira joins a Solon backcourt that features a pair of players currently in the budding stages of breakthrough seasons.

Senior point guard Ben Krutzfeldt is averaging a team-high 17.8 points and 4.8 assists per game while sophomore AJ Coons is averaging 13.2 points per game.

A career 42 percent 3-point shooter, the addition of a healthy Ira gives Solon another scoring option.  

“It’s huge,” Krutzfeldt said. “To have him as a shooter it instils confidence in me and everyone on our team.”

While Ira’s return gives Solon another scoring threat his biggest contributions come on the defensive end.

He had four steals and three blocked shots to go with seven points and seven rebounds in his first game back against Anamosa.

In a loss at Dyersville Beckman on Friday the senior guard had two steals and a block with his eight points.  

“Since I’ve been here we’ve been keeping track of deflections and he’ll set the record, nobody gets their hands on as many basketballs so the whole dynamic defensively changes,” Pershing said. “He disrupts everything on defense and offensively obviously he can shoot the ball very well.”  

A 9.1 point per game scorer last season, Ira expects his shooting to improve as the season goes on.

He was 2-for-4 from 3-point range against Beckman on Friday.  

“It felt good just to be back and get the rust off for the first time,” Ira said. “I missed a few easy shots but the second game was better.”

Liberty High’s Brandon Off to Strong Start

Liberty High is off to a 3-4 start in its first season of varsity action and sophomore Andre Brandon has been a big reason for the early success.

Through five games Brandon is leading the Lightning in scoring and rebounding, averaging 17.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

The 6-foot-5 forward is shooting 65 percent from the field and leads the team with 11 assists and six blocks.

 “Andre has a lot of potential,” Liberty High coach Stu Ordman said. “He needs to learn to get out of his comfort zone in practice and try new more effective ways of doing things that will work against really good varsity competition but he’s a competitor.” 

West High Stays on Top

Defending 4A state champion West High opened the season atop the Class 4A boys basketball poll released by the Associated Press and hasn’t budged since.

West High (5-0) held the top spot for the second straight week in the poll released on Monday.

Regina (5-0) appeared in the AP poll for the first time on Monday, entering the 2A poll at No. 10.

Performances of the Week

West High senior Seybian Sims had 28 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks in a 81-65 win over Bolingbrook, Illinois.

Solon sophomore AJ Coons had 23 points on 11-of-14 shooting in a 62-48 win over Anamosa.

Clear Creek Amana senior Darius Moore had 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in a 70-52 loss to South Tama.

Regina senior Jake Phillips had 22 points and three steals in a 56-39 win at Monticello.

City High senior Jeremy Kambomba had 18 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks in a 64-62 loss to Dubuque Senior.