Sparks senior Keiffer Putman made all six free throws from the technicals and helped the Railroaders pull away to a 63-50 Div. I-A boys prep basketball victory at the Brickhouse Friday night.
“Not many teams had the week we had,” Sparks boys basketball coach Dan Schreiber said, alluding to suspensions stemming from the Whittell game. “It just goes to show their character to bounce back and play a big game like that for first place in our pod ... and to play that composed in that type of atmosphere. From a coaching standpoint, it was nice to see because we could have cashed in the season five days ago. These kids realized what they did was wrong, but they also got right back on track. It was a proud moment for me.”
South Tahoe trailed 46-44, 12 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Putman answered with his fifth 3-pointer of the night, but a minute later, Cale Backinger intercepted a pass and took it the distance for a one-handed slam, firing up the Viking crowd. That was the high point of the quarter.
Sparks led 51-46 before South Tahoe was called for its first technical. With 2:36 on the clock, the Vikings picked up two technicals on the same play. After Putman made all four free throws from the double technical, the Railroaders were up 59-50 and were never threatened again.
After going scoreless in the first quarter, Putman scored 21 points to pace the Railroaders.
Sparks missed its first four shots of the game and that enabled South Tahoe to build a small edge that it would take into the second quarter.
The Vikings tallied the first six points of the Mount Rose League contest and pushed their lead to as much as 15-6 in the opening period. Backinger single-handedly outscored the hosts 11-10 in the first quarter, giving South Tahoe a 15-10 advantage after the first eight minutes of action. Backinger scored 17 of his game-high 24 points in the first half.
Putman sparked his team from the start of the second quarter with a 3-pointer. His second trey pushed the Railroaders into their first lead of the game, 18-17, at the 5:55 mark of the second.
The Railroaders increased their edge to four, 21-17, when Mike Albior cut to the hoop and was fouled on his make. He converted the three-point play to cap the 11-2 run.
South Tahoe knotted the game at 21-21 with back-to-back buckets over 28 seconds of action. But that was the last time the game would be tied.
Putman hit his third triple of the quarter from way downtown. After a tip-in by Backinger, Isaiah Campbell and Geo Vasquez drained 3-pointers on consecutive trips down the court for the Maroon and Gold, extending the gap to 30-23.
Each team scored once in the final minute of the half, sending the teams back to the locker rooms with the scoreboard reading 32-25.
Sparks added on to its lead when D.J. Devine scored down low and Putman swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key when no defender picked him up bringing the ball up the court. Those five quick points bumped the lead up to 37-25.
Still with a 12-point cushion, Sparks watched South Tahoe rattle off nine unanswered points, including back-to-back treys from both wings by Brandon Cramer, cutting the deficit to three, 39-36.
Instead of letting the Vikings tie up the game with a third straight 3-pointer, Campbell knocked down a shot from behind the arc, making it a 42-36 ballgame.
The home team could not shake the California school.
A third trey in the quarter brought the visitors to within a bucket, 44-42.
The Railroaders took a 46-42 lead into the fourth quarter, following a basket down low by Devine.
Campbell added 17 points, while Devine had nine in the winning cause.
Cramer chipped in 11 for the Vikings.
Sparks (12-8, 5-0 MRL) is at Incline Tuesday for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.
The Sparks girls basketball team had 13 points after the third quarter Friday night. Nearly eight minutes later, the Railroaders only had 14.
It was a very long night offensively for Sparks, which was held scoreless in the second quarter, allowing South Tahoe to enjoy a 30-6 lead at halftime en route to a 53-16 road victory.
For the first 2:45 of the third quarter, neither team scored as the score remained 43-13 in favor of the Vikings. South Tahoe’s Bailey David rattled home a 3-pointer from the top of the key to start the scoring.
Sparks managed a lone free throw through the first 7:24 of the fourth quarter, but a putback with 36 seconds on the clock accounted for the final 37-point margin.
David led all scorers with 12 points, while teammate Ally King added 11.
Krystal Parker finished with five points to lead Sparks.
Sparks is now 1-12 overall on the season.