By Jason Brummond
MARION — Apparently a good offense beats a good defense three out of three times. At least if you have the potent inside-outside attack of top-ranked Solon.
The Spartans built a big first-quarter lead and breezed past Dyersville Beckman in a 76-42 rout last night in a Class 2A boys’ basketball substate final. Solon’s one-two punch of Matt Morrison and Tucker Wentzien combined for 45 points, topping the total output from the Blazers in the third matchup between the schools this season.
“We were on a mission tonight,” Solon Coach Brad Randall said. “These kids strive in this kind of atmosphere and they certainly did that tonight.”
Solon will be the favorite in the state tournament that starts March 9.
Teams better be ready to go in the first quarter if they want to keep up with the speedy Spartans.
Solon (25-0) led 12-4 midway through the first quarter against Beckman when the Spartans scored 12 unanswered — the last seven from Morrison.
With a 17-4 advantage and 2:11 remaining in the opening period, the Northern Iowa recruit stole a pass and converted a layup for the three-point play.
Seven seconds later, Morrison made another steal with an uncontested layup. After another Beckman turnover, Morrison received the pass and pulled up for an easy jumper.
Four minutes, 12 unanswered points and a 24-4 lead. The Spartans are ready for Des Moines.
“Our coach really emphasizes in practice starting out strong,” said Morrison, who scored 22 points. “We try to set the tempo.”
The 6-foot-7 Wentzien hit 10 of 17 from the field for a game-high 23 points.
Solon averages 74.8 points a game, and the Blazers held opponents to a school-record 43.2 points.
The Spartans reached that total with two minutes left in the second quarter.
Beckman (19-6) committed 13 turnovers in the first half — eight in the tough first quarter — and couldn’t keep pace with Solon. Center Joe Ament and forward Blake Olberding led the Blazers with 14 points each.