Eagles steal win from Lakers
By Mike Granlund
The Solon Springs Eagles boys basketball team literally stole the WIAA Division 5 playoff opener from the Shell Lake Lakers with a 61-46 win Tuesday night in the SSHS gym.
The Eagles used 16 steals to overcome a one-point halftime deficit and advance to the regional semifinals Friday at No. 1 Luck.
The win did not come easily for the Eagles as the Lakers led 23-22 at the half. The biggest problem for the Eagles was Shell Lake’s David Brereton. The 6-foot-4 Brereton totaled 20 points by halftime on a variety of jump shots and drives to the hoop.
SSHS coach Dale Rajala was happy with the win.
“At halftime we had to find a way to slow down their big man and eliminate him from their offense,” Rajala said. “We came out in the second half determined to not let him beat us; we put one man in front of him and one man behind him.”
Down 32-26 with about four minutes to go in the third quarter, Solon Springs reeled off 13 straight points, spearheaded by the devised defense and the inspired play of sophomore Adam Vandenberghe.
“Adam has really blossomed into a solid player and understands his role,” Rajala said.
The Eagles lead was eight points after three quarters and stretched to the final 61-46 outcome.
Logan Long was the chief thief for Rajala as he had eight of Solon Spring’s steals. Rajala praised Long saying, “Logan does some really amazing things.”
Rajala also credited assistant coach Marcus Besonen with working hard with the kids on ball handling and ball pressure drills.
Vandenberghe led the Eagles with 18 points; senior Daniel Gengenbach added 15 points and Long chipped in with 10.
Also for Solon Springs, Austin Khalar scored eight points; Caleb Hedberg, six; and C.J. Zamzow, four. Zamzow was the top Eagle rebounder with seven.
Brereton’s 24 points were tops for Shell Lake, which ends the season with an 8-14 record.
Solon Springs (13-9) will play at Luck at 7 p.m. Friday. The Cardinals advanced with a 65-19 over Lac Courte Oreilles.
Rajala expects another tough game against a tall team as Luck is led by 6-6 sophomore Noah Mortel and 6-4 senior Karsten Petersen. Luck finished third in the Lakeland-West Conference and is 14-6 overall.