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Your Prep Sports
SOLON – Sometime in the next two weeks Jack Stahle will play his final basketball game.
Stahle knows his basketball days are numbered and it is only a matter of time before his career on the hardwood comes to an end.
The Solon senior guard wasn’t about to let that time come on Thursday.
Stahle scored 10 of his career-high 19 points in the fourth quarter as Solon held off Fairfield 57-48 in a Class 3A, Substate 5 semifinal in Solon.
“It’s intense this time of year, when you are done you are done and you never get to play again when you lose,” Stahle said. “We are just determined to make as a long of a run as we can and keep it going as long as we can.”
Sophomore AJ Coons scored 13 of his game-high 21 in the first half as Solon built a 10-point halftime lead.
It was the senior Stahle who brought the Spartans to the finish.
Stahle hit a pair of fourth-quarter 3-pointers, including the game-clincher with 2:20 left, as Solon advanced to the Substate 5 title game.
“By far he’s playing the best he has ever played,” Coons said of Stahle. “Jack has been huge for us these past couple of games. He is just really gaining confidence and he is playing the way that he is capable of playing.”
One year after losing its postseason opener, Solon (16-7) will take on top-ranked Mount Pleasant (20-3) on Monday at 7 p.m. at Muscatine for a trip to the state tournament.
“We are trying to make this last as long as we can because last year we got knocked out the first round,” Coon said. “That one hurt so we are trying to play with each other as long as we can and just enjoy it.”
The win was the fifth straight and seventh in the last eight games for Solon which is seeking its first state tournament berth since 2016.
“A lot of teams tap out and plateau somewhere in late January or early February,” Solon coach Jason Pershing said. “I am so proud of our guys for be willing to continue working.”
Solon jumped to an early lead and never gave it up on Thursday.
Coons had 11 points in the first quarter as Spartans took a 23-12 lead after one quarter.
“Coach Pershing had a good game plan on offense and we executed that well in the first half,” Coon said. “They kind of switched some things up and it took us a while to adjust but once we did I thought we did a good job with it.”
Solon spent the first half isolating guards against bigger defenders and attempting to beat them off the dribble.
Coons was the top option for the Spartans but everyone got into the offensive act early.
The Spartans made 8-of-10 first-quarter field goal attempts and shot 75 percent from the field in the first half while building a 37-27 halftime lead.
“In the motion offense the whole point of running the motion offense is to take advantage of mismatches and with Ben (Krutzfeld), Luke (Ira) and AJ at some point we are going to have a quick guy on a bigger guy,” Pershing said. “That was the point to try to take advantage of matches.”
Fairfield slowly got back into the game and cut the lead to 45-41 with a 6-0 run to end the third quarter.
That’s when Stahle took over.
He opened the fourth quarter with five straight points, pushing the lead back to 50-41 with a 3-pointer with 5:41 left.
“My teammates are the best, they get me involved and I’ve been shooting well these last few games,” Stahle said. “They’ve been getting me the ball in the right spot and I’ve been scoring.”
Fairfield got as close as 50-36 but Coons hit a pair of free throws and Stahle buried a 3-pointer from the corner to push the lead back to nine with 2:20 left.
Stahle hit 7-of-9 field goal attempts and was 4-of-5 from 3-point range.
“I can’t say enough positive things about him,” Pershing said. “He took a role that most people would begrudge and he took it and loved it. He’s the ultimate teammate.”
Krutzfeldt finished with nine points and Ira added five for Solon which shot 51 percent for the game.
“It means everything to us to just have one more game,” Ira said. “That’s what we’ve focused on is just having one more game with the team that we have here.”
Solon 23 14 8 12 – 57
Fairfield 12 15 14 7 – 48
Solon (57) – Ben Krutzfeldt 3-7 2-2 9, Jack Stahle 7-9 1-3 19, AJ Coons 6-11 9-12 21, Cam Miller 1-4 0-0 3, Luke Ira 2-6 0-1 5, Luke Schaekenbach 0-0 0-0 0, Team 19-37 12-18 57.
Fairfield (48) – Dante Cingire 2-9 2-4 7, Cole Engle 0-1 0-0 0, Carson Crile 5-8 3-4 14, Collin Breen 2-7 0-0 5, Andrew Martin 0-1 0-1 0, Mark Diers 0-1 0-0 0, Austin Simpson 4-6 4-6 12, Tristin Waugh 4-7 2-3 10, Team 17-40 11-18 48.
3-point field goals – SOL 7-18 (Krutzfeldt 1-4, Stahle 4-5, Coon 0-1, Ira 1-4, Miller 1-4); FAI 3-12 (Cingire 1-5, Engle 0-1, Crile 1-2, Breen 1-3, Diers 0-1). Rebounds – SOL 22 (Schaekenbach 6); FAI 30 (Simpson 10). Turnovers – SOL 11; FAI 15. Total fouls – SOL 18; FAI 18. Fouled out – Fairfield (Waugh). Technical fouls – None.