Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – Staring at a two-week break between games over the holiday season just about every coach has a different idea of how to best utilize that stretch.
More practices? Scrimmages? Skill work, five-one-five?
Solon coach Jason Pershing had a different vision.
The Spartan’s fifth-year head coach wanted to make sure the holiday break provided an actual break for his team.
“Less was more for us, we took seven days off which is unheard of,” Pershing said. “I just think it was great for our guys to really spend time with their families and get their minds off basketball so they could start over.”
The time off and the fresh start seemed to be just what the Spartans needed.
After going 2-5 before break Solon has rattled off back-to-back wins to open 2019 including a 53-50 upset at then Class 3A third-ranked West Delaware.
“We said 2019 is a new year,” Pershing said. “We haven’t talked about the other games, we haven’t talked about Mount Vernon, we haven’t talked about the losses we just started over.”
The Spartans began building moment before break.
Solon snapped a four-game losing skid with a 57-53 win over rival Mount Vernon in the final game before break.
The win snapped a stretch that including consecutive WAMAC Conference losses by three, five and six points.
“That was huge to go into the holiday break and rest and spend time with families and not have to worry about a losing streak,” Pershing said. “It was the first time that we’ve been able to finish a game and that was really the most important part. We’d had five other opportunities with the same amount of time left with the same score we just lost the four other ones.”
Solon spent the break resting, recovering and recharging its batteries.
When the Spartans did return to practice they made several adjustments and now bring a three-game winning streak into a home matchup with 3A top-ranked Maquoketa (11-0) on Friday.
“We gave some guys some new roles and they completely bought into those roles,” Pershing said. “Cam (Miller) is playing more of a point forward and he’s doing fantastic. He had six assists against West Delaware and we had 13 as a team that’s the most we’ve had all season. That was something that we really worked on. We changed some things offensive and they bought in.”
Nine different Spartans scored in the win over West Delaware with junior AJ Coons the only player in double-figures with 16.
“A lot of it I think is confidence and believing in our teammates,” Coons said. “We have a lot of new faces obviously and kids stepping into new roles but now I think we are settling in to roles and believing in each other and believing in ourselves and I think that is really helping us.”
Ranking update: West High moved up one spot to fourth in the latest Class 4A Associated Press Poll.
West Branch and Regina are both receiving votes in the Class 2A poll.
Top-ranked teams are Waukee (4A), Maquoketa (3A), North Linn (2A) and Grand View Christian (1A).
Performances of the Week: Solon junior AJ Coons had 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists in a 53-50 win over West Delaware.
Clear Creek Amana senior Nolan Schwarting had 11 points, four rebounds and three steals in a 72-49 win over South Tama.
West Branch senior Ted Bridges had 26 points, 14 rebounds and four assists in a 78-61 win over North Cedar.
Regina junior Masen Miller had 22 points, five rebounds and three steals in a 47-33 win over Monticello.
West High senior Patrick McCaffery had 22 points, six rebounds and six assists in a 57-55 win over Linn-Mar.