The beginning of the 2020-21 high school season has not exactly gone as the Solon Comets girls basketball team had planned. Aside from having to combat constant schedule upheavals due to the pandemic the team opened its season on a five-game losing streak.
The Comets graduated three senior starters last year and have several new faces that are learning how to play together. Solon had been competitive in most of its games but couldn’t get over the hump. The Comets put an end to their five-game skid on Jan. 16 with a decisive 67-37 victory over Greater Cleveland Conference rival Euclid Panthers last Saturday afternoon.
“They were excited but who wants to be 1-5? It’s nice to finally get the monkey off our back but at the same time the games that we lost I feel like we could have won a few of those games. I think that’s where the kids are still a little bit frustrated but if we can try and put a couple of wins together and I think our kids will be even more excited,” said Solon head coach Trish Kruse.
The Comets’ starting lineups have consisted of just one senior. Overall Solon has just three seniors on the roster this season. The team made a tweak to is starting lineup this past Saturday. Rather than start three sophomores, one freshman and a senior the Comets rolled out three freshman, one sophomore and one senior against Euclid.
For the first time in a while the team’s primary players are mostly underclassmen. Any team with fresh faces is expected to undergo some growing pains especially in a season that has been drastically altered. Still coach Kruse is not one to make excuses and knows that her team’s start to the season has not been good enough.
“Other teams have had delays too. We tell the kids no excuses,” she said, “We have got to figure it out. It was nice to get a win yesterday.”
The team may have figured something out. The Comets strung together one of their most complete performances of the season against the Panthers. They raced out to an early 14-8 lead in the first quarter.
The defense was locked in as Solon limited Euclid to eight points again in the second quarter. The Comets kept their hands active and posted a whopping 28 steals to collect 39 points off of 38 turnovers.
The offense was moving the ball around and good things always happen when the team shares the rock. The Comets held a commanding 35-16 lead at halftime. Solon finished the game with 11 assists on 26 made baskets.
“I guess we did a better job of rebounding than we had in the past five games. We held them to single digits, did a better job of getting the outlet passes, getting the ball up the floor, attacking the basket and not settling for the three-point shot,” said coach Kruse.
One of Solon’s biggest weaknesses this season has been settling for far too many jump shots. The team has capable shooters but there hasn’t been enough consistency in that area. The Comets made a concerted effort to attack the basket as they scored 40 points in the paint to earn their first conference win of the season.
“It was good. We got off to a nice start, played some good defense we rebounded, shared the basketball up the court,” coach Kruse said, “Overall it was a good game. Still maybe a little bit too many turnovers but overall it was better than what we played so I’ll take it and it’s a win.”
Coach Kruse was hopeful that the Comets could use this victory as a stepping-stone to right the ship. Unfortunately, Solon dropped a contest to Newark on Monday night.
As crazy as the season has been it doesn’t change the fact that the annual sectional tournament is nearing. Solon has made deep runs in the postseason the last three years and wants to continue that trend.
Senior guard/forward Hailey Weaver led Solon with 21 points, five rebounds, three assists and six steals followed by sophomore guard Cheyenne Hatcher with 14 points, six rebounds, one assist and five steals. Euclid’s leading scorer was Alexis Reese as she tallied 15 points, nine rebounds, two assists and one steal with Erin Miller scoring 12 points, four rebounds and two steals.