On Friday, Spanish Springs got a chance to redeem itself when it hosted North Valleys. The home team did indeed get some redemption, cruising to a 69-54 High Desert League home victory on Homecoming and Senior Night.
“The game for our kids was a great Homecoming game,” Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. “We executed on a lot of possessions and took care of business. I’m proud of our kids.”
The final margin was 15 but the game wasn’t really that close. North Valleys ended the game with a 21-4 spurt over the final five-plus minutes — against a unit comprised largely of SSHS reserves.
Prior to the late run by the guests, Spanish Springs had forged ahead 65-33.
Spanish Springs scored the first six points of the game and never trailed. North Valleys made it 6-5 but Spanish Springs proceeded to go on a 12-3 burst that ended the first quarter with the Cougars capturing an 18-8 edge.
The home team never let up. The Cougars reeled off the first 13 points of the second quarter, forging ahead 31-8 and the rout was on.
By halftime, Spanish Springs was holding a comfortable 34-12 lead.
“We didn’t have it tonight,” North Valleys coach Dick Peraldo said. “I wish I could tell you why. We practiced hard all week. We had a tough loss against Galena in our last game that officially knocked us out of the playoffs. Maybe that’s why. But ultimately, we just can’t spot teams a 20-point lead by halftime and expect good things to happen.
North Valleys began to show some signs of life after the break. A pair of free throws and a layup by Gled Bautista, trimmed the Spanish Springs lead to 17, 44-27. Any faint hopes North Valleys had of clawing its way back into contention were erased when the Cougs ended the third quarter on a 9-2 run. That made the score 53-21 after three periods of play.
When Brian Smith knocked down two foul shots at the 5:51 mark of the fourth, Spanish Springs had its biggest lead of the night, 65-33.
“Absolutely, our guys were ready for this game,” Penney said. “After that first game against them, our kids wanted to show a response that the team North Valleys beat in December is not the team we are now. The kids came out focused and excited.”
Smith paced the Cougs with 18 points. Brandon Delong chipped in with 16, while Austin Damoth and T.J. McCauley added 15 and 11 respectively.
Bautista led the Panthers with 21 and Jalil Walker added 14 in the losing cause.
Spanish Springs (13-10 overall, 8-6 league) goes to Reno for a 7:30 p.m. tilt Tuesday. The winner will control its own destiny for a postseason berth while the loser will be on the outside looking in and need help.
Spanish Springs scored the first eight points of the game and was off and running. North Valleys had no answer for the Cougars’ full-court pressure and the result was a 62-22 SSHS romp in the High Desert League affair.
In addition to putting up the first eight points of the initial period, Spanish Springs reeled off the last nine of the first quarter and built a 24-5 advantage by the conclusion of the first eight minutes.
The scoring slowed a bit in the second quarter as the Cougars backed off their full-court pressure and began to rotate in reserves. The hosts took a 34-10 lead into the locker room at the break.
Spanish Springs dominated play in the third quarter, stringing together a 14-0 run while outscoring the Panthers 18-4 in the period.
A Mariah Vargas jumper with 4:52 remaining in the contest gave the Cougars a 56-15 lead, pushing the margin over 40 points and implementing Nevada’s mercy-rule running clock.
Another Vargas jumper, a minute later, made the score 60-15. The 45-point gap was the biggest of the night for Spanish Springs.
The Cougars wound up scoring 10 of the first 13 points of the fourth and cruised to the 40-point victory.
Four Cougars scored in double digits in the lopsided affair. Freshman MorningRose Tobey finished with a game-high 17 points for the SSHS crew. Riley Holladay and Sam Owens both chipped in 11 while Vargas, a first-year Cougars reserve guard, added 10, a varsity career-high.
“Our kids have been pretty unselfish all year and they were tonight as well,” Spanish Springs coach Christine Eckles said. “We came right out and got the big lead, took control of the game. That’s all you can ask your kids to do.”
Valerie Quam was the lone Panthers player to find double digits in the scoring column, throwing in 12 of the Reno school’s 22 points.
Spanish Springs held huge edges on the stat sheet. It outshot its guests 47 percent (28-60) to 17 percent (8-46). The Cougars won the rebounding battle 38-34 and forced 29 Panthers turnovers while committing 16.
Spanish Springs improves to 19-6 overall, the first time in program history it has been 13 games over the .500 mark. The Cougars sit 11-3 in conference clashes.
The local school is now set up for a showdown at Reno Tuesday night at 6 p.m. The winner has the inside track on the HDL’s second postseason seed and a first-round home playoff game.
“It’s obviously a big game for us,” Eckles said. “We’ll have to play better than we did the first time around against them if we want to stay in that game and give ourselves a chance at the end. I’m proud of our kids because we’ve given ourselves a special opportunity. Now it’s up to us to do something with it.”