Eagles win battle of unbeatens; SSHS girls win on road
Solon Springs is now the only undefeated boys basketball team in the Indianhead Conference.
The Eagles defeated Washburn 61-54 Monday night to improve to 9-0 overall and 5-0 in conference play. Washburn falls to 6-1, 4-1.
“We can’t sneak up on people anymore, and it’s a good feeling,” said Dale Rajala, Eagles head coach. “It’s nice to see Solon Springs actually get some attention.”
Monday’s game was played before a packed gym in Solon Springs. Rajala said the atmosphere was “electrifying” and unlike anything he’d seen since the 2011-12 season — the last time Solon Springs defeated Washburn.
Members of the 2012 team were in the stands Monday, and they’d been keeping a close eye on the Eagles leading up to the game.
“We’ve been having those guys show up at practices and open gyms; they’re right along with us,” Rajala said. “They’re part of the family, and they told the guys to go out and get it for them — play for them too. We did a good job of that. The community won tonight, not just our basketball team.”
Sophomore Jens Gehl led the Eagles with 24 points off the bench. He scored the first six points of the second half for Solon Springs and finished with 16 of the Eagles’ 33 points in the second half.
“We played together well as a team,” Gehl said. “A lot of passing (and) teamwork.”
The game was hotly contested from the opening jump. The lead changed eight times in the first six minutes before settling into a 12-12 tie.
The scored remained tied at 14-14 when Solon Springs reeled off five quick points. Adam Vandenberghe gave Solon Springs the lead with a defensive rebound and full-court layup, and at 10:03 he passed the ball to Ryan Anderson at the arc to make it 19-14.
The Eagles then stayed in front until the final two minutes of the half.
Conner Bouchard started Washburn’s late rally with a layup through the lane, and Colton Vernon gave the Castle Guards a 30-28 lead with a 3-pointer at 1:51. Bouchard then ended the scoring for the half with a layup moments before the buzzer sounded to put Washburn up 32-28.
Gehl said the Eagles were disappointed, but not discouraged, to be trailing at halftime after holding a six-point lead earlier in the half.
“There was a little nervousness, but in the locker room we got it back together,” Gehl said. “We came out with more energy, that’s for sure.”
Washburn scored the first four points of the second half to take its largest lead of the night, 36-28, but the Eagles answered with two baskets in the paint from Gehl.
With 14:46 to play leading scorer Vandenberghe went to the Eagles’ bench with his third personal foul, but Solon Springs did not fall behind. Gehl kept up his scoring streak, this time from the high post, and Corey Pajtash added a free throw to make it a two-point game.
Brant Schick scored for Washburn on the ensuing possession, but a rebound and put-back by Gehl and a hook shot by Reid Lisson tied the game at 39-39.
“When Adam was on the bench guys stepped up and we actually went on a pretty good run,” Rajala said. “That just shows that we’ve got good depth. We’ve got guys that can step in and just keep it rolling out there for us.”
Solon Springs took its first lead of the second half on Anderson’s floater at 10:51 and moved to 43-39 on a pair of free throws by Gehl.
The Eagles then put the game away when Vandenberghe checked back in with 9:58 to play. The senior had three baskets, one steal and an assist over the course of three minutes as the Eagles’ lead ballooned to 54-41. Zach Rajala then added two free throws to cap an 11-0 run that put Solon Springs up 56-41 with 6:37 on the clock.
Washburn cut the lead to 10 twice and final four minutes before finishing with a 3-pointer from Vernon for the final score of 61-54.
“They’ve had our number for a long time, and this was a test for us,” Dale Rajala said. “I’m very proud of the way that when we got down, they didn’t blink. They just kept fighting.”
Solon Springs finished with three players in double figures. Gehl led with 24 points, Anderson and Vandenberghe finished with 10 points apiece and Zach Rajala added nine.
For the Castle Guards, Bouchard scored 21 points before hurting his ankle in the second half. Schick then took over for Washburn and scored 10 of his 18 point in the final seven minutes of the game.
Washburn was playing without Trevor Cook, who suffered an ankle injury against Ashland last week.
Washburn............................ 32 22 — 54
Solon Springs..................... 28 33 — 61
Washburn — Conner Bouchard 21, Brant Schick 18, Colton Vernon 8, Brady Stephenson 3, Alec Bouchard 2, Sebastian Tenney 2.
3-point goals — Vernon 2, C. Bouchard, Stephenson.
Solon Springs — Jens Gehl 24, Ryan Anderson 10, Adam Vandenberghe 10, Zach Rajala 9, Caleb Hedberg 4, Reid Lisson 2, Corey Pajtash 1, Ian Klinzing 1.
3-point goals — Anderson 2.
Wis. Boys State Rankings
1 McDonell Central....... 9-0 1
2 Hillsboro.................... 6-0 2
3 Columbus Catholic..... 8-0 3
4 Bangor..................... 7-0 4
5 Seneca.................... 6-0 6
6 Gresham.................. 9-0 8
7 Port Edwards............ 8-0 7
8 Young Coggs Prep..... 8-3 9
9 Solon Springs........... 9-0 UR
10 Washburn 6-1 5
The Solon Springs girls basketball team picked up a win on the road Tuesday, defeating Butternut 48-37.
The Eagles outscored Butternut 28-14 in the first half. Solon Springs hit 10 of its first 12 shot attempts in what head coach Brian Amys called the team’s “best half of basketball yet this season.”
“We were smart with the ball, we didn’t force up bad shots and played outstanding defense,” he said. “We took our time and ran the offense and got the looks we needed.”
The Eagles were led by Phoenix Thomas with 23 points. Karly Sutherland added nine points, and Allison Bailey finished with six points.
“Our defense made some huge stops, and we had to adjust on the go to stop Butternut,” Amys said. “The girls adapted well, and our bench got a ton of playing time and gave us solid minutes.
“We are a little banged up and are trying to let some girls rest this week, which gives these other girls the opportunity to play a lot more and contribute to the team. We are gaining confidence in our team game by game and it is starting to show.”
The win puts Solon Springs at 5-3 overall and 4-2 in the Indianhead Conference.
The Eagles are back in action today with a home game against Drummond.
Solon Springs........................... 28 20 — 48
Butternut............................... 14 23 — 37
Solon Springs — Phoenix Thomas 23, Karly Sutherland 9, Allison Bailey 6, Taylor Blaylock 4, Nikki Orozco 3, Lindsey Sickler 2.
Butternut — Gabby McCorison 22, Danielle Koch 5, Taylar Bortz 4, Chelsea Wegner 4, Autumn Dorner 2.