Solon senior wing Hailey Weaver tries to score against the defense of Arcs’ junior wing Zennia Thomas in the Welser Gymnasium last Saturday.

This high school basketball season has been one of the most challenging seasons to date for Solon Comets girls basketball head coach Trish Kruse. It has also been a challenge for the players as they have been in and out of quarantine multiple times during the season. It seemed impossible for the Comets to gain any consistency but they seem to have found their rhythm at the perfect time.

The Comets ended their regular season on a high note by securing three straight victories over Greater Cleveland Conference opponents before the sectional tournament began. Solon had knocked off GCC rivals Elyria, Euclid and Mentor in three straight days. The good times came to an end as Solon stumbled in the fourth quarter and suffered a 70-61 defeat against the Brush Arcs in the opening round of the Division I Northeast 2 sectionals on Feb. 13 in Lyndhurst.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” said coach Krush, “I think it’s been like 12 or 13 years since we’ve been knocked out in the first round. It’s disappointing but these kids are super young. Hopefully they’ll learn from it and grow.”

Solon had been in control throughout the first three quarters but things fell apart in the final quarter as the Comets saw their five-point lead slip away when the Arcs’ offense erupted for a 19-5 surge to close out the game and hand the Comets an opening round exit.

“We missed a lot of free throws down the stretch and they ramped up their pressure and we just kind of fell apart,” said Solon senior wing Hailey Weaver.

Solon had done a great job at the free throw line throughout the first three quarters as it swished nine-of-12 shots but ended up converting only five baskets out of nine opportunities at the charity stripe in the fourth quarter. Brush heated up from long distance and connected on three triples while the Comets went ice-cold from the floor. Solon made just two field goals in the fourth.

The offense struggled as they were without senior wing Hailey Weaver to start the fourth quarter. The 6-foot-0 senior picked up her fourth foul in the third quarter and had to miss the first half of the final quarter. The Comets missed her playmaking and rebounding as Solon couldn’t keep the Arcs off the glass as they used their size and length to crash the boards and extend multiple possessions.

“We couldn’t make a shot. We couldn’t box out and they just out-rebounded us. The rebounds really killed us in the end,” said sophomore shooting guard Morgan Blackford.

Weaver had the Comets playing from in front after scoring seven points in the first quarter. Without her to run the offense the Comets trotted out a lineup comprised of underclassmen to combat a more experienced Brush team. The inexperience showed as Solon struggled to move the ball while the Arcs kept finding the open player. The senior wing re-entered the game midway through the final quarter but played conservatively to avoid picking up her fifth foul. Brush outscored the Comets 41-27 in the second half.

Solon had high hopes of making another deep run in the post season, but that dream is now over. Due to the pandemic the OHSAA had granted teams that were eliminated from the tournament early a chance to continue playing regular season games through the end of the season, but the Comets are bringing down the curtain.

It’s a tough end to Weaver’s athletic career at Solon but the 6-foot-0 senior will continue her playing career in the Big Ten Conference as she will be playing Division I college ball at Northwestern University. The Solon senior finished her final game by scoring nine points, collecting six rebounds and tallied eight assists. The Northwestern commit sees a bright future for her Comet teammates.

“I think the younger players have a lot to keep their heads up for. It’s a big test to ask them to come out here and beat a team of mostly seniors and upperclassmen. I think we played really well,” Weaver said.

Blackford was Solon’s leading scorer with 20 points, grabbed one rebound and dished out one assist while sophomore point guard Chyanne Hatcher-Turbeville poured in 17 points while hauling in five rebounds and recording two assists. Brush junior guard Taylor Johnson-Matthews led the way with 22 points, eight rebounds and one assist followed by senior guard Kayla White who scored 19 points, brought down six rebounds and handed out four assists.

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