Spectators at the Solon-Regina boys game got four distinct games for their entrance fee. The two teams split the first two quarters, endured an ugly third and Solon managed to pull away in the fourth for a rather strange 57-43 victory.
It was difficult to explain the first two quarters. Solon was absolutely brilliant in the first in building a 23-8 lead. Regina came back in the second and outscored the Spartans 20-5 to tie the game at halftime.
“We’ve done that all year; it’s very frustrating,” Solon coach Brad Randall said. “We were very dominating in the first quarter. Our intensity let up. Some guys who came off the bench didn’t give us much.”
“It’s been happening,” Solon point guard Emilio Villagrana said. “Most of our games we get a big lead at the beginning and they usually call timeout, and we’ll just slow down and won’t keep the pressure on them. That allows them to come back. It’s always a dogfight after that.”
Solon hit 9-of-18 shots in the first quarter while holding Regina to 3-of-10 and forcing eight Regina turnovers. Just as quickly as you’d flip a light switch, the magic was gone. Solon went 12 consecutive scoreless possessions as Regina roared back. Drew Cook had 10 of his 14 first-half points in the second quarter. Regina made four threes during that period.
“We just got on a roll,” Cook said. “We stopped making turnovers, and once we didn’t make turnovers, we got on a roll and made shots. That’s when we came back.”
“We got in a little bit of a hurry with our offense in the second quarter and didn’t break the defense down,” Randall said. “We’ve had a hard time with the killer instinct.”
The third quarter was like a slog through the mud, but Solon emerged with a 38-34 lead. Jaden Durr’s 3 was a huge shot late in the period to bump Solon’s lead to six.
Solon broke open the game to start the final period. Solon scored in six of its first eight possessions while Regina committed three turnovers and missed four shots with no offensive rebounds.
“They got better in their zone,” Cook said. “I think they kind of changed their zone to what we were doing, and that’s how they created turnovers and scored their points.”
Villagrana, a super-quick guard generously listed at 5-foot-11, led all scorers with 21 points and was impossible for the Regals to contain either driving to the basket or feeding teammates.
“In practice, our coaches always tell me to use my speed because it helps,” he said.
“Villagrana was the player of the night with those plays he made at the end,” Randall said. “He was chasing the ball all over the place.”
Cook led the Regals with 16 points.
REGINA (43) – Johnny Ries 1-5 0-1 2, Mike Donovan 1-3 0-0 3, Nathan Stenger 4-8 0-0 10, Kenyon Browning 2-8 2-2 6, Drew Cook 7-12 0-1 16, Mark Ward 0-2 1-2 1, Matt Streb 1-4, 2-2 5, Mike Sehl 0-4 0-0 0, Alex Balke 0-2 0-0 0, Phil Arendt 0-0 0-1 0, Connor Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Jared Geraets 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-48 5-9.
SOLON (57) – Emilio Villagrana 7-15 7-10 21, Ethan Ahern 1-3 1-3 3, Austin M. Miller 3-6 2-2 8, Joe Weeks 5-10 1-2 11, Ryan Kunkel 3-4 2-5 8, Nick Shelman 0-3 0-0 0, Austin D. Miller 0-2 0-0 0, Jaden Durr 2-3 1-4, Dalton Ferguson 0-1 0-0 0, Nathan Hawkins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-47 14-26.