In a highly anticipated girls basketball game between two rival opponents, the sixth-ranked Regina Regals hosted the third-ranked Solon Spartans on Saturday.
While on paper it was shaping up to be one of the most competitive games of the season, the Spartans never gave the Regals a chance and took home the emphatic 75-44 win.
The following takeaways explain how Solon ran away with arguably the biggest win of their season:
Solon implements a near-perfect defensive game plan
It is rare that a team has been able to hold the high-scoring Regals below 50 points, including 23 points in the first half.
However, the Spartans proved to be the outlier as their tenacious defense made it difficult for the Regals to get into any flow.
That was because they tightly defended the Regals' shooters on nearly every offensive possession and forced multiple turnovers that they turned into transition points.
Well aware that his defense would have to be at its best to keep the game competitive, Solon head coach Jaime Smith said that the overall philosophy had not changed.
"We don't give up threes," Smith said. "On the high school level, we know that it is hard to finish with someone on you, so if we give them open threes they are going to drill them. So, I think that we made everything they did tonight hard. They got some backdoors, but we would rather them do backdoors than make those threes."
Sticking with man-to-man defense for most of the night, senior guard Hilary Wilson said that the team knows that it is difficult for most teams to penetrate it.
"We know that we are better than everyone when we can pressure them and not let them score," Wilson said. "We try not to go into zone defense because we feel like we can play man all the time. So, we just keep trying to pressure our opponents and get in their grill."
That proved true all night after they held the Regals to 13 or fewer points in every quarter.
Regina's usually balanced offense becomes one-dimensional
One of the greatest strengths of the Regals is that they can attack opposing teams in many different ways offensively.
Boasting one of the best trios in the state made up of sophomore Morgan Miller, junior Alli Clark and senior Grace Gaarde, defenses have no choice but to respect that either of them can take over on any given night.
Saturday night was a different story, though, because it seemed that if it was not Miller shooting the ball, it had a hard time connecting to the bottom of the net.
This was especially true early into the game when she scored eight of the team's first 10 points.
While the team had more luck as the game went on, Regals head coach Mary Rogers said that it was hard to get much going.
"I thought our overall movement was limited by their defensive pressure," Rogers said. "I think eventually we started to understand what we needed to do, but it was a very physical game. Just trying to get open and distribute the ball was really hard."
Kobi Lietz and Hilary Wilson outshoot Regina from three-point range
While the Spartans are a team that typically does their damage in the paint, they have lethal shooters who can do some damage on the outside.
On Saturday night, it was Wilson and sophomore guard Kobi Lietz who caused Regina the most problems.
They combined for seven three-pointers, outpacing Regina's two.
Gaining confidence with every shot they knocked down, Wilson said that team morale could not be higher.
"Those shots falling feels really good," Wilson said. "Especially when you are not making your shots because you lose your confidence. So tonight, I think it was a good confidence booster for all of us."
By the end of the game, Wilson wound up with 14 points and Lietz was close behind with 11 of her own.
This article originally appeared on Iowa City Press-Citizen: No. 3 Solon rides its defense in blowout win over No. 6 Regina