Number One v.s. Number Two
It doesn't get any better than that. In Cleveland area girls basketball, it means Solon at Wadsworth, which could be a preview of a state semi-final. We here in the Cleveland area were just blessed to have it as a regular season game.
Solon came into the game as the second ranked team in the Cleveland area, after going through what may be the toughest schedule in the state. At 16-3, the Comets losses were to Akron SVSM, currently ranked sixth in the state in Division II, Centerville, who is currently ranked tenth in the state in Division I, and Kettering Fairmount, ranked fifth in the state and the defending state champions.
Wadsworth came into the game at 19-0 and the state's top ranked team
In the words of Inspector Clouseau of Pink Panther fame.....NOT ANYMORE
Solon rode a hot start, led wire to wire, played tremendous defense, and gave the Grizzlies of Wadsworth their first loss of the year last night 55-47 in front of a raucous crowd at Wadsworth.
The game was intriguing match ups it presented. It figured to be a match up of the backcourts. Wadsworth may have the best set of starting guards in the state in Peyton Booth and Hannah Centea. Throw in sophomore Jodi Johnson and shooter Taylor Wyatt, the Grizzlies had plenty of firepower in their backcourt. Solon is led the best athlete in the Cleveland area male OR female in University of Maryland recruit Kristen Confroy. Joining Confroy in the Solon backcourt are the Bekelja sisters, junior Jordan and freshman Dee. Jordan runs the show from the point, and Dee has been coming on strong as the year has progressed.
Solon sets the tone early.... The key to the game turned out to be the first quarter. Despite being greeted by the chant of "crab cakes" (a Maryland staple), Confroy poured in eight points, Solon shot over 60 percent from the floor, and darted out to a 22-11 win after the first quarter. The theme of the game would be established at that point, and Wadsworth would start to get back in the game.
Grizzlies close the gap in the second quarter.... Behind the play of Booth and Wyatt, Wadsworth began to close the gap. Raising their level of intensity, the Grizzlies cooled off the hot shooting Comets, outscoring them in the second quarter 17-10, and cutting the Comet lead to 32-28 at the half.
The second half was more of the same. Every time Solon would stretch the lead, Wadsworth would cut into it. Behind the play of the Bekelja sisters, Solon took a 43-36 lead into the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies would mount one last charge, going on an 8-3 run to start to quarter, cutting the lead to 47-44.
Enter Dee Bekelja
The Solon freshman (yes, freshman) scored two huge buckets late, and the Comets held off the Grizzlies down the stretch with free throws and defense. Solon held Wadsworth, who was averaging over 70 points a game, to just 47, and to under 40 percent from the floor. In a quote to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Solon coach Trish Kruse knew the importance of this win:
Tonight, we were able to beat a very talented team in Wadsworth on their home court, so that is a big win for us. We just have to keep building; but tonight was a great win for us as a team
Solon did it with balanced scoring and defense. Dee Bekelja led the Comets with a game high 15 points. Jordan Bekelja added 14, and was vital in slowing down the Wadsworth backcourt. Confroy had her usual all-around game, scoring 14 points, dishing out 6 assists, grabbing 5 rebounds, and having 4 steals. Center Alexis Gray chipped in with 10 points as the Comets put four players in double figures. Peyton Booth scored 13 for the Grizzlies, while Taylor Wyatt chipped in with 10.
How good is Solon?.... VERY good. As in state championship contender good. They certainly by now should have proven their worth to the voters of the state polls. Coming into the game unranked was, and is, a joke. This is as good of team as there is in the state. Yes, they aren't the biggest team around, and teams can beat them up inside at times (Kettering Fairmount), but with someone as good as Confroy on the team, anything is possible.
Why Solon is so good is because the other players have learned to play WITH Confroy, and not solely RELY on her. The freshmen Bekelja and Alexis Stover have grown throughout the year, and along with the steady play of Jordan Bekelja, the Comets confidence is at an all-time high.
Wouldn't it be cool to see a Solon-Wadsworth state final?