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Eagles head to regional finals

The Solon Springs boys basketball will be playing in the WIAA Division 5 regional finals for the first time since 2006.

The Eagles advanced with a 71-48 victory over the Bayfield Trollers Friday night in Solon Springs.

"This is an opportunity for us to go to another level, and we know it," said Dale Rajala, Eagles head coach. "We have to bring our best game, raise the stakes and just go for it, and the guys responded tonight."

Solon Springs will face Drummond at 7 p.m. Saturday in the regional finals. The game will be held in Ashland.

Saturday's regional final game will be the third game in three days for the Eagles, who had to postpone their opening playoff match until Thursday due to adverse weather conditions. Rajala, however, was not concerned about the tight schedule.

"I think it's good. It's just like the NFL playoffs when you're a wild card -- you've just got to keep going, and we like that," Rajala said. "The guys would rather play than practice, that's for sure."

The Eagles started fast against Bayfield, built a seven-point lead heading into halftime and then put the game away with a decisive third quarter.

Leading 34-27 after two quarters of play, the Eagles opened the second half with 10 unanswered points.

Tyler Long started the run with nice shot under the basket on a pass from Trey Scheldroup nine seconds into the second half. Cody Utyro then came up with a quick steal, and Scheldroup scored the layup to make it 38-27 less than 30 seconds into play.

Phil Larson was the next Eagle to come up with a steal as Bayfield struggled against Solon Springs' full-court pressure. The Eagles worked the ball around for an open shot that rimmed out, but Long grabbed the offensive rebound and Kyle Vandenberghe eventually put the ball in from the left block.

Long continued the Eagles' strong defensive effort on the Trollers' next possession when he stepped in front of a pass for the steal, and Larson's turn-around jumper off the glass gave Solon Springs a 42-27 lead.

Scheldroup finished off the 10-0 run at 5:06 when he drove into the lane and pulled up for a short jump shot.

Michael Waschmuth's put-back on a long rebound gave Bayfield its first points of the quarter at 4:46, but Solon Springs responded by scoring the next five points on a 3-point play from Long and a floater from Vandenberghe to take a 20-point lead.

Solon Springs led by 24 at the end of the third quarter, and Bayfield never got closer than 16 in the fourth quarter.

Hurting the Trollers in the fourth quarter were a pair of technical fouls less than 10 seconds apart. Larson made 3-of-4 shots on the technical fouls to put Solon Springs up 67-45.

For the night, Solon Springs was 17-of-20 from the free-throw line. The Trollers were 2-of-6.

"They guys played together," Rajala said. "They went out and they trusted each other; they played for each other, and I'm really proud of that."

Larson led a balanced scoring effort for the Eagles with 16 points. Cody Utyro made a trio of 3-pointers and finished with 14, Long had 13 points; and Scheldroup and Vandenberghe scored 11 points each. Mac Ohm, Corey Utyro and Jake Dahlberg chipped in with two points apiece.

Solon Springs 18 16 23 14 -- 71

Bayfield 16 11 6 15 -- 48

Solon Springs -- Phil Larson 16, Cody Utyro 14, Tyler Long 13, Trey Scheldroup 11, Kyle Vandenberghe 11, Mac Ohm 2, Corey Utyro 2, Jake Dahlberg 2.

3-point goals -- Cody Utyro 3, Larson 2, Scheldroup.

Bayfield -- Alex Dietrich 14, Michael Waschmuth 9, Kyle Gordon 8, Andrew Defoe 8, Kevin Leask 6, Jonathon Cadotte 3.

3-point goals -- Gordon 2, Leask 2, Waschmuth, Cadotte.