Eagles top the Evergreens (updated)
“I didn’t even talk offense,” Rajala said. “I just said we need to get our assignments down and the offense will take care of itself. We need to shut down people going forward, and it needed to start tonight.”
The result for Solon Springs was a 60-50 win over Northwood in a nonconference game Tuesday night. The Eagles limited Northwood to 23 points in the first half, which included giving up just four field goals in the first nine minutes of play.
“They pressured us up a little bit and we didn’t handle it so well,” said Jon Wallace, Northwood head coach. “It was a big hole to dig out of. We just couldn’t quite get there.”
Solon Springs began the night with a 7-0 run. Jens Gehl knocked down a 3-pointer on the Eagles’ first possession, and then Nick Zosel added two free throws and Reid Lisson put up a shot inside within the first two minutes.
Northwood saw its first two possessions end in turnovers, but Ryan Volz put the Evergreens on the board with 15:52 to play with a transition layup. Northwood closed the gap to 9-5 before the Eagles pulled away with an 11-2 run and ended the first half up 33-23.
Zach Rajala increased the Eagles’ lead to start the second half. The senior hit a 3-pointer from the right wing 40 seconds into the half and then intercepted a pass and put up a quick shot for a 38-23 lead.
Solon Springs’ lead remained in double figures until Brandon Daleiden’s 3-pointer at 13:39 made it 42-33. Over the next 10 minutes the teams combined to score only 13 points, with the Eagles’ lead fluctuating between nine and 12 points.
Northwood then made a final push to overtake the Eagles, beginning with Daleiden’s put-back that cut the lead to 50-40 at 3:13. Lisson made a free throw for Solon Springs on the next possession, but Northwood followed with two baskets from Volz and two free throws from Daleiden to make it a two-possession game, 51-46, with 2:24 to play.
“They never go away; that’s what this rivalry does,” Coach Rajala said. “Jon always has his guys playing hard. They never panic, they’re always steady and we know that we’ve got to play for the whole 36 minutes that we’re out there.”
Solon Springs turned to its defense to regain momentum. Lisson’s steal with about two minutes to play led to a pair of free throws by Zach Rajala, and Lisson added a basket of his own about 30 seconds later. Gehl then completed a 6-0 run for the Eagles with a shot inside with 54 seconds to play.
Elliot Luedtke’s 3-pointer 13 seconds later gave Northwood some hope, but the Evergreens took a 59-49 lead seconds later on a long inbounds pass to Gehl. Each team added one free throw apiece in the final 34 seconds for the final score of 60-50.
“All around they’ve got a nice team,” Wallace said. “I preached to my guys that last year they (Solon) had a lot of good individual players, but this year they’ve got a real well-built team. To pick one guy out of the bunch, you really can’t do that.”
Zach Rajala scored 11 points in the second half for the Eagles and finished with a game-high 17 points. Gehl added 13 points and Lisson had 11 points.
For the Evergreens, Ryan Volz led with 14 points and Tyler Budisalovich added 11 points, including seven in the first half. Hunter Phillips, Northwood’s leading scorer, finished with eight points and 11 rebounds.
Volz and Budisalovich are the only seniors playing for Northwood this year, while Rajala and Lisson are the only seniors for Solon Springs.
“Next year those guys are going to be that much better,” Dale Rajala said. “I expect Hunter (Phillips) to be bigger, faster, stronger, and we are going to have to be ready for another battle.”
The Eagles have now won five of the last six meetings between the two teams and hold a two-game winning streak against Northwood.
“Between Dale and I it’s a pretty friendly rivalry because we’re pretty good friends, but the crowd gets into it a little more than we do,” Wallace said. “It’s always nice to have good competition this close to each other. That really helps build the rivalry.”
The Evergreens return to Central Lakeland Conference action today with a 7:15 p.m. game at Cameron. The Comets are a perfect 7-0 in conference play and are 12-2 overall. Cameron has won six straight games and has not lost a Central Lakeland Conference game since Jan. 16, 2014.
The Eagles host Washburn tonight and then plays at Butternut Tuesday. Both games begin at 7:15 p.m.
NOTES: From 2003 to 2007, the Eagles and Evergreens met in the playoffs four times, splitting the games 2-2. The teams have not faced each other in the playoffs since 2007. … The Eagle boys are 13-5 against Northwood dating back to 2002-03 — the last time Northwood defeated Solon Springs twice in one season.
Solon Springs.......................... 33 27 — 60
Northwood............................... 23 27 — 50
Solon Springs — Zach Rajala 17, Jens Gehl 13, Reid Lisson 11, Nick Zosel 6, Caden Smith 6, Alex Hunter 4, Chase Latvala 3.
3-point goals — Rajala 3, Gehl, Latvala, Smith.
Northwood — Ryan Volz 14, Tyler Budisalovich 11, Hunter Phillips 8, Brandon Daleiden 7, Elliot Luedtke 5, Hunter Frahm 4, Jeffery Meling 1.
3-point goals — Budisalovich, Daleiden, Luedtke.
Mellen 87, Solon Springs 76
Solon Springs will need to help to defend its Indianhead Conference title after falling to Mellen Monday.
Solon Springs are 9-3 in the conference. Drummond leads at 10-1, while Mellen, Washburn and South Shore are tied for third place with four conference losses apiece.
Drummond has five conference games remaining, including matchups with Mellen (tonight), Solon Springs (Feb. 10) and South Shore (Feb. 14).
“If Mellen plays against Drummond like they did against us, I’m going to hope that they come out on top,” Dale Rajala said.
Four Mellen players finished in double figures Monday, led by Davin Stricker with 28 points and Ahpahnae Thomas with 27.
The Granite Diggers finished the night shooting 17-of-19 from the free-throw line, while Solon Springs was 2-of-6.
Solon Springs.......................... 24 52 — 76
Mellen...................................... 34 53 — 87
Solon Springs — Zach Rajala 16, Nick Zosel 15, Jens Gehl 13, Reid Lisson 10, Chase Latvala 8, Joshua Smith 6, Alex Hutner 4, Dane Banks 4.
3-point goals — Rajala 4, Latvala 2, Lisson.
Mellen — Davin Stricker 28, Ahpahnae Thomas 27, Trevor Beach 16, Brady Mesko-Jokinen 11, Jordan Koosman 5.
3-point goals — Stricker 5, Mesko-Jokinen 3, Beach 2.
The Washburn Castle Guards remained atop the Indianhead Conference standings Monday with a 62-40 victory over Solon Springs.
Washburn (14-2) held the Eagles to 15 points in the first half to take a 13-point lead.
Freshman Kylli Rajala was hot from the arc for Solon Springs in the second half with four 3-pointers, but Pooja Geisen and Emma Rusch scored 11 points apiece in the half to pace the Castle Guards.
Geisen finished the night with 20 points for Washburn, and Rajala had 18 for the Eagles. Both players hit five 3-pointers apiece for their respective teams.
Washburn................................. 28 34 — 62
Solon Springs.......................... 15 25 — 40
Washburn — Pooja Geisen 20, Emma Rusch 12, Baylee Barningham 6, Emily Belanger 6, Skyla Dalbec 6, Bianca Rosales 6, Sierra Adams 4, Bridget Motiff 2.
3-point goals — Geisen 5.
Solon Springs — Kylli Rajala 18, Nikki Orozco 9, Heather Holderness 4, Allison Bailey 4, Taylor Blaylock 2, Lily Nordskog 2, Morgan Anderson 1.
3-point goals — Rajala 5.