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‘That’s who Solon is.’ Spartans down Wahlert in hard-fought quarterfinal victory

Solon trailed entering the fourth quarter
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By Ryan Timmerman | Photos by Matthew Putney 

DES MOINES - The third quarter was a struggle for the Solon girls’ basketball team, but the Spartans did just enough to thwart a comeback bid by Dubuque Wahlert Catholic to advance to the Class 3A semifinals at the IGHSAU state basketball tournament.

The Spartans took a 29-22 lead into halftime, but found themselves down 35-34 to start the fourth.

However, the Spatans moved on with a 54-46 win over the Golden Eagles on Monday at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. 

Solon junior Hailey Miller ended with a game-high 21 points while classmate Calllie Levin had 19.

“This means so much to us,” Miller said. “We’ve felt like we’ve been counted out since the beginning of the season. Coming into this tournament, we just knew we were going to do whatever it took to win.

“Credit to Wahlert, they kept fighting and are a really good team. But we just didn’t want this to be our final game.”

Neither Miller nor Levin missed in the final quarter. The duo converted all six combined field goal attempts and Levin was 4 of 4 from the free throw line to help the Spartans (23-2) put the game on ice late.

“It’s so exciting,” Levin said. “We knew even when we were down, we couldn’t get down on ourselves, so we just kept shooting and the shots started to fall.

“We knew we had to step. This definitely gives us a lot of momentum proving to ourselves that we can come back like this. We have confidence in everyone on our team.”

Wahlert (18-7) made a valiant attempt to overtake the proceedings by going on a 13-5 run that lasted the duration of the third.

The Golden Eagles were led by senior Emma Donovan and sophomore Claire Lueken, who both scored 13 points in the loss.

Donovan went for five points in the third as Wahlert made its run. Between the third quarter and start of the fourth, she hit five consecutive shot attempts that paced the ill-fated comeback bid.

Lueken did most of her damage early to keep the Golden Eagles afloat. Lueken went for 10 in the first half, though Wahlert was down seven at the intermission and Solon would go on to close it out.

:”We fought as hard as we could and did what we needed to do to win,” Miller said. “That’s just who we are. That’s who Solon is.”