Local rivalry resumes with Solon Springs-Northwood basketball doubleheader
Today, he’ll be coaching against the Evergreens as the Solon Springs boys and girls basketball teams host Northwood in a doubleheader.
It’s an interesting situation, Amys said. The two small schools form a co-op for some sports — like football — but when basketball season rolls around the rivalry is back in full force.
“We have a couple of girls on the team who have cousins on Northwood’s team, so family-wise it’s a competition,” Amys said. “But our girls come out every night and play hard. They’re friends with a lot of girls down there, so it’s going to be fun to watch and play. It’s going to be a lot of emotion going.”
Dale Rajala, head coach of the Solon Springs boys team, said he’ll tell his players to leave their friendships at the door for today’s game. His players suited up with the Evergreens for the football season, and each team is very familiar with the other.
“It’s always a battle,” Rajala said. “Those guys are fast, they’re aggressive, they’re hungry, and we know that every time we play them it’s going to be a battle. We fully expect them to come in on Tuesday ready to go.”
Today’s doubleheader begins with the girls playing at 5:45 p.m. in Solon Springs. The boys game will follow at approximately 7:30 p.m.
The Evergreens and Eagles have a long history, but recently the Solon Springs boys and Evergreen girls have dominated their respective match-ups.
The Eagle boys enter today’s game with a four-game winning streak, dating back to the 2008-09 season. They won last year’s contest 53-28 in a game that saw a combined 50 fouls committed by the two teams.
This year, Rajala expects a footrace today.
The Eagles have relied on their quickness to wear down opponents, but Northwood should be a match for Solon Springs. The Evergreens have plenty of “speedsters,” Rajala said, with Mason Barth and Brady Vig being chief among them.
“It’s going to be a fast game,” Rajala said. “I just hope there aren’t any collisions.
“I think it’s going to come down to execution. Are we going to be able to deal with their quickness? Are we going to be able to shut down their best offensive players? We need to take care of the ball, we need to have good possessions and be patient.”
The Northwood girls, meanwhile, are hoping to continue their winning streak over Solon Springs. The Evergreens won last year’s game in Minong 74-39. It was the first time the two teams had played each other since the 2010 playoffs.
“I know they’re going to be competitive, and fortunately I know the coach down there very well from coaching football there,” Amys said. “And I know a lot of the girls that are on the team. It’s going to be a great match-up.
“We played them this summer before I had worked with the Solon girls and put in our system, and we were competitive with them. I think that with the talent we have and the girls we have that have come so far, it’s going to make for a great match-up. I think it’s going to come down to who can make their free throws and who can hold on to the ball and not turn it over.”
On Friday, the Solon Springs boys and girls swept the Butternut Midgets in an Indianhead Conference match-up.
The Solon Springs girls opened the night with a 44-8 victory, and the boys won the nightcap 74-49.
For the girls, with victory was an important milestone.
“We’ve already won this year the amount of games they won last year,” Amys said. “They were 5-16 last year, and we’re 5-4 now.”
The Eagles have six seniors on the team this season, a luxury they haven’t enjoyed for years. Those seniors have been through the highs and lows of the program, Amys said, and this year they’ve become strong leaders for Solon Springs.
“They’re playing more as a team, and we’re building each and every game. That’s what’s important,” Amys said.
After each game, Amys picks out two things for the girls to improve upon. They focus intensely on those issues during practice and then move onto something new after their next game.
“We just build the program from there,” Amys said. “The girls are really buying into it.”
Against Butternut, the Eagles saw in image of themselves from a few seasons past. The Midgets have only one senior and their starting lineup consists entirely of freshmen and sophomores.
Solon Springs’ experience showed Friday as the Eagles kicked off the game with a 13-0 run and held the Midgets to three points in the first half.
Tylor Kruse led the Eagles with 10 points, Shayla Bornholdt added eight and Autumn Blaylock and Phoenix Thomas finished with seven apiece.
In the boys game, the Eagles turned to thievery to gain an edge over Butternut.
All five starters had at least one steal in the first 2:30 of the game, and Solon Springs finished the first half with more than a dozen steals to lead 37-24.
“We’ve got a pretty quick defense,” Rajala said. “I was really happy with the way they read: getting into the passing lanes, taking good angles, quick hands to the ball. I feel that they really are getting their assignments down properly in our press.”
The Eagles put up 26 points in the first quarter, led by Adam Vandenberghe with nine and Austin Khalar and Daniel Gengenbach with six each.
Gengenbach went on to finish with a game-high 23 points, despite facing off against Butternut’s taller players inside.
“Daniel has faced every possible defender this year. He’s really in a zone this year and doing very well,” Rajala said. “He’s got very good court awareness, and he’s taken advantage of that this year.”
Logan Long added 16 points for Solon Springs, and Vandenberghe and Khalar finished with 11 points each.
Butternut................................ 14 10 16 9 — 49
Solon Springs......................... 26 11 17 20 — 74
Butternut — Sam Miesbauer 17, Ryan Prellwitz 12, Alexander Greenwood 8, Vladimir Zirngibl 4, Mark Hill 4, Gabe Miesbauer 2, Spencer Maier 2.
3-point goals — Prellwitz 2.
Solon Springs — Daniel Gengenbach 23, Logan Long 16, Adam Vandenberghe 11, Austin Khalar 11, Caleb Hedberg 7, Zach Rajala 4, C.J. Zamzow 2.
3-point goals — Vandenberghe.
Butternut................................. 1 2 0 5 — 8
Solon Springs......................... 13 9 14 8 — 44
Butternut — Katie Pritzl 7, Autumn Dorner 1.
3-point goals — None.
Solon Springs — Tylor Kruse 10, Shayla Bornholdt 8, Autumn Blaylock 7, Phoenix Thomas 7, Brianna Larson 4, Alicia Jensen 2, Caitlin Armstrong 2, Caitlyn Colemena 2, Karly Sutherland 2.
3-point goals — None.