Tribune photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs senior guard Kenny Meyer (with ball) drives into the lane and prepares to drop in a scoop shot in traffic during second-quarter action of the Cougars' league win over Wooster Tuesday.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Cougars post Jacob White (in white) is fouled while working in the post against Wooster's interior defense. White finished with 12 points in the win.
There was no doubt which was the better boys basketball team at Spanish Springs Tuesday night. One team had played four games, the other had not played any. One team suits up one of the top players in the region. The other does not. One team started red-hot shooting from the field while the other did anything but.
Spanish Springs was indeed that better team Tuesday, cruising to a 69-20 home romp over Wooster in a DI North crossover league game. The host Cougars put the 40-point gap into effect on their first bucket of the fourth quarter and that implemented Nevada's running-clock mercy rule. The conference clash finished in less than an hour and 15 minutes.
"Our kids always play hard and there's a lot we can improve on, but there were a lot of positives tonight," Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. "We held them to three and four points in the last two quarters. It's good to hold them down and yet we still have growing to do and that's exciting."
The outcome was never really in doubt. Spanish Springs led 16-0 at the conclusion of the first quarter and wound up ripping off the first 20 points of the game. Cougars post Jacob White ran the floor and got a layup in transition at the 6:51 mark of the second quarter. The fast-break bucket wrapped up the SSHS crew's 20-0 run to begin the game.
The visiting Colts stopped their scoreless skid when they got back-to-back 3-pointers from Isaac Zinnerman. However, any feel-good vibe by the Colts was quickly erased when Spanish Springs sharpshooter Kenny Meyer, a first-team all-league pick last winter, answered with a 3-pointer and circus-scoop shot on the break on the Cougars' following two possessions.
The consecutive Meyer baskets left Spanish Springs on top 25-6 with 5:11 remaining in the half. Wooster stopped the bleeding for the remainder of the second quarter and went into halftime down 31-13.
Meyer, who finished with a game-high 24 points, torched the Colts for 17 first-half points, accounting for more than half of the Cougars' offensive total in the initial two periods. He didn't let up after the break either. He drilled a pair of treys and connected on a free throw for seven points in the third period, before cheering on his teammates and watching the final period from the bench.
Meyer finished 7-of-13 shooting from the field, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc.
"We knew about Kenney," Wooster coach Dean Whellams said. "He can shoot it. You're not going to shut him out. We tried different things. It's just that none of them worked. You run into that on some nights."
After throwing in the first 20 points of the first half, the Cougars were nearly as good to begin the second half. The hosts posted the first 14 points out of halftime and outscored Wooster 24-3 in the third period.
Jake Prizina capped the Cougars' stellar third period with a driving layup in traffic, forging Spanish Springs ahead 55-16. Less than 20 seconds into the fourth quarter, Garrett Nauman got a runner in the lane to fall for a 57-16 SSHS advantage. That bucket pushed the margin over 40 and implemented the running clock rule.
All DI North teams were scheduled to open play Dec. 3, but last week's snow storm forced schools across the region to re-schedule. Spanish Springs moved its opening game back just a day, to Dec. 4, and then played in a tournament in Napa. Calif., meaning Tuesday's tilt was its fifth game. Conversely, Wooster has not played its make-up game yet and did not play in a tournament over the weekend, leaving its matchup at SSHS as its season debut.
Whellams said it was evident Spanish Springs was already more battled tested.
"You could tell. They opened the game on a 20-0 run and we were having balls bounce off our hands," the Colts coach said. "That's a little bit of nerves. Spanish Springs has a great group of guys, but we've got no excuses ... There's no doubt, talent wise, they're better than us. But unfortunately and more importantly, tonight they were way better than us effort-wise too."
Penney didn't deny his team had a leg-up on the experience factor just a week into the new season.
"Playing the early games and the close games last weekend, has been very good for us," Penney said. "We've gotten chances to get better. That game experience is valuable."
After Meyer's 24-point outburst, just one other Cougar finished in double figures in the scoring column. That was White, who contributed 12 points to the winning cause. Ten of 11 players on the Cougars' roster scored in the lopsided affair.
After Zinnerman's eight points, which all came in a second-quarter flurry, no other Colts player had more than three.
Spanish Springs, which evened its league record at 1-1, improved to 3-2 overall. The Cougars have won three straight after coming up short in their first two contests of the 2013-14 campaign. Next up for the SSHS cagers is a trip to northern California. Spanish Springs will play in a three-day tournament, starting Thursday, hosted by Pleasant Valley of Chico, Calif. The Cougars tip off tournament play at 8:30 p.m. Thursday against Clovis North of suburban Fresno.