When teams with identical 7-1 records and a chance at the top of the conference meet, you know there will be fireworks. Solon came to Beckman, Jan. 8, and went home with a hard-fought overtime win, 54-52.
Mason White opened the game with a lay-in for the Blazers, then Kinnick Pusteoska answered with back-to-back tallies, 4-2. Jake Hermsen and Logan Goedken hit a bunny and three and they led 7-4. Then they lost White to a knee injury that may keep him out the rest of the year. Pusteoska responded with back-to-back lay-ins and they led 8-7. But Padraig Gallagher and Logan Burchard drilled treys for a 13-10 lead, tied by a Solon bomb by the end of the first frame.
Gallagher hit another, as did Burchard and the Blazers led 19-17. Neither team could pull away with quick Solon hands knocking balls away and tough Blazer D forcing the Spartans into difficult shots. But a Goedken three at the buzzer gave the Blazers a 27-23 halftime lead.
They maintained much of that in the third and grew it to six, 31-25, on a Gallagher free throw and a basket-and-one from Hermsen. Goedken matched a Solon three for a 34-28 lead that dribbled to 34-33 by the quarter.
In the fourth, Carson Shive, remember that name, hit a charity shot to knot the game at 34 in the first minute. But back-to-back threes from Goedken and Burchard put them back up by six with four minutes to go. Only trouble was, three straight turnovers gave Solon’s Will Noonan chances to tie the game at 40. Goedken hit again, 43-40, two taken back by Spartan David Bluder. Gallagher made two free throws, Bluder answered, 45-44 and then Shive knotted it with one, 45-45. Gallagher got two more with 10.6 seconds to go, but Shive put back a Bluder miss to knot the game at 47 and force OT.
Bluder scored the first six Spartan points in the extra frame, putting them up 53-51 and Noonan made it 54-51. With .8 of a second to go, Goedken was fouled shooting a three, made the first but missed the second and it was decided. The Spartans went home 8-1, the Blazers counted their second straight loss, 7-2.
Molony talked about the game. “Solon was a game a lot of people had circled because they were the only remaining undefeated team in our conference. I was really proud of our defensive effort all night, something I don’t believe they had to deal with to date. We really frustrated a very talented team and limited them to taking numerous tough shots.
“On the offensive end, we also did a great job carving up a strong athletic team. Our offensive balance is something difficult to match up with as there are so many weapons to focus on. We got contributions from everyone and continued to shoot the ball extremely well.
“With the loss of Mason early in the game, I was proud of how we fought and rallied for him. In the end, our untimely turnovers and his loss started to show late. To Solon’s credit, they were desperate to make plays.
“We felt looking over the stats after the game, how did we lose? It is another lesson for us on the value of the basketball. With how well we shot it, getting up more shots in games is going to be a key moving forward.”
Their first loss of the season came Jan. 5 at Marion, 70-59, and the Blazer boys had very little time to suffer from that loss. The next six games of the second half of the WaMaC season will prove how tough they can be.
The Indians doubled the Blazers in the first quarter, 18-9, forcing them to fight back in the second. They did just that, outscoring Marion 18-12 to trail just 30-27 at the half. But the Indians came back out strong and dumped 26 third-quarter points, holding the Blazers to 15, digging a too-deep hole.
Indian soph Brayson Laube was key to their win, dumping 26 points in 5-of-6 from the arc and 8-of-11 from everywhere else.
Coach Michael Molony added, “Heading to Marion, we knew we were going to be playing a team much more talented than their record was showing. With their ability to score, we knew we would need to pick up our defensive efforts where we left off before the break. Sadly that was something we were able to do for only one of the four quarters.
“We came out sluggish and not ourselves, which had a lot to do with time off and absences through the break. Once we got settled back into our roles in the second quarter, we looked like the Beckman from our first seven games.
“A key stretch in the third quarter really determined the outcome. We struggled to get shots off and were not able to get defensive stops. We know we need to compete better for four quarters to win in our conference.”
Beckman’s leaders against Marion were: scoring — Gallagher 19 (two treys), Gehling 16 (two), Goedken 11 (three), White eight, Hermsen three (one), Nate Schaefer two; rebounds — White eight, Gehling six, Gallagher five, Hermsen three, Goedken two, Schaefer one; steals — Gallagher two, Goedken and Schaefer one; blocks — Gallagher, Hermsen, Gehling and Goedken one; assists — Gehling five, Goedken four, Gallagher two, White and Schaefer one; team turnovers — 15.
Leading the Blazers against solon were: scoring — Gallagher 17 (two), Goedken 16 (five), Burchard nine, Hermsen six, Gehling and White two; rebounds — Gallagher seven, Gehling five, Hermsen four, Burchard three, White and Goedken two, Schaefer one; blocks — Hermsen two, Gallagher, Burchard, Schaefer and Goedken one; steals — Schaefer and Ryan Burchard two, White, Goedken and Logan Burchard one; assists — Gallagher six, Hermsen three, Gehling, Goedken and Logan Burchard one; team turnovers — 18.