Sparks led 14-8 after the first-period play, but Portola put together a modest 9-3 run to initiate the second quarter. That left the scoreboard showing a 17-17 deadlock. That’s also when Sparks got to work on its telltale outburst. The host Railroaders finished the the first half on a 19-3 run to forge ahead 36-20 at the intermission.
Portola was never within single digits again.
“Sparks is a very disciplined team,” Portola coach Tim Brubaker said. “In the first half, we definitely did not do what we wanted to do on the defensive end. We didn’t compete well.
“Give Sparks credit. It is the most disciplined team we’ve played this year.”
Sparks outscored its California guests 20-19 and 17-15 in the final two quarters, nixing any hopes Portola had of making a comeback.
Portola got as close as 13 on two separate occasions in the third period. The second time came when Tigers guard Kyle Heskett drained a 3-pointer with 1:15 to go in the third. Sparks responded with nine unanswered points and held Portola at bay.
Martin Jordan led Sparks on the offensive end, pouring in 26 points. Henry Banks chipped in 10 points for the SHS club.
Portola’s 6-foot 4-inch post, Mario Rodriguez, led all scorers, finishing with 26 points. No other Tigers player had more than seven.
“When we found somebody that would sit in the big guy’s lap and make it hard for him to catch, we got going,” Sparks co-head coach Mike Jones said. “He’s hard to move. He’s a good player. Once we did that, defensively we were able to get going. Once we got some stops, it helped our offense.
“I was a little disappointed in the second half. We didn’t defend the big guy the same way. We got comfortable with our lead. We didn’t put in the effort like the first half. It is so hard to get these kids to play that aggressive style and it’s so easy for them to relax.”
Sparks will host its annual Rail City Classic Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Due to an unorthodox nine-team tourney, the Railroaders will not play Thursday, instead opening Friday at 8 p.m. against the winner of a Thursday matchup between Incline and Rite of Passage.