The win snapped a three-game losing skid for Spanish Springs. To make matters worse, all three games had been conference clashes. Spanish Springs, which started league play at 5-1, now sits 6-4. The SSHS hoopsters are 12-7 overall.
"We needed to get a win," Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. "A win cures a lot of things. Hopefully, this is now something we can build off and get some confidence. We need to play with more confidence in a lot of different areas of the game."
Spanish Springs drilled North Valleys at home in early December, 71-38, but it got a much more competitive contest from the Panthers Saturday in north Reno. The visiting Cougars led 43-36 after three periods of play. North Valleys' TJ Pascual got a steal and a layup to open the fourth quarter and the hosts had trimmed the Spanish Springs lead to five, 43-38.
That's as good as it got for North Valleys. Spanish Springs responded with a 13-4 run to extend its edge to 56-42. Kenny Meyer drilled six free throws and connected on a 3-pointer during the key spurt.
North Valleys tried to hang around. A 3-pointer from Jordan McGuigan left the Panthers down 11, 58-47, with 2:23 left on the game clock. However, any faint comeback hopes North Valleys still harbored were dashed as Spanish Springs finished the game with a 10-2 outburst.
"It got to a point where they had to pressure a little bit," Penney said. "We took care of the pressure and got some points in transition. We got some layups and got to the foul line too. That's a big piece."
From the opening tip, Spanish Springs quickly took control, racing out to a 12-4 lead with under a minute remaining in the initial period. North Valleys proceeded to rip off eight straight points and knot the game at 12-12 two minutes into the second quarter.
Spanish Springs answered with an 11-0 run of its own. Nine of the points in the spurt were scored by TJ McCauley. That left the Cougars on top 23-12 with two minutes remaining before halftime. From there, the two teams traded buckets and Spanish Springs was left with a 30-20 advantage at the intermission.
Spanish Springs forged ahead 39-25 after a Hunter Pinto layup midway through the third. A string of nine unanswered points got the Panthers back within five, 39-34, with 2:12 showing on the third-quarter clock.
The Cougars got good offensive balance. McCauley led all scorers with 21. Meyer chipped in 15 points, thanks in large part to a perfect 10-of-10 shooting performance at the foul line. Spanish Springs also got 13 points from Dupree Kness, who got a rare start with usual senior starting post Austin Damoth out with a swollen tendon.
Jalil Walker and Pascual scored 15 and 14 points respectively for North Valleys (4-14, 0-10) while Mauricio Varela added 10.
Spanish Springs returns to the hardwood Tuesday when it hosts North power Galena at 7 p.m.
The SSHS girls were coming off an emotional loss at Reed a night earlier, but also bounced back in fine fashion. Despite not having leading scorer Lyndsey Anderson, who missed the game for personal reasons, Spanish Springs was never really threatened and breezed to a 49-30 road win at North Valleys.
"I wasn't quite sure how we'd come out and how much energy we'd have after last night's tough loss at Reed," veteran Cougars coach Christine Eckles said. "I was pleased that we got off to the good start and mostly because we defended well and let the offense come from our defense. We also got some jumpers to go down. That always helps your offense look better and it helps keep your energy level up."
The game was tied at 2-2 two and a half minutes into the first quarter, but Spanish Springs grabbed the momentum from there and held a 13-5 lead at the quarter's conclusion.
The margin was still manageable for North Valleys, down, 15-6, after Koralynn Birmingham sank 1-of-2 free throws with 6:56 to go before halftime. Spanish Springs answered with a 13-0 run and North Valleys would never be within single digits again.
The spurt was capped by back-to-back treys from KK Lang and Riley Holladay and a layup in transition from Myrissa Prince. The Cougars led 28-6 at the point and took a 29-9 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Spanish Springs got the third quarter going with a 14-5 spurt that pushed its lead to a game-high 29 points, 43-14, following a layup by Laneesha Terrance with 1:40 left in the period.
After using its bench sparingly in Friday's loss to defending state champion Reed, Cougar reserves played the bulk of the minutes through the remainder of the game as the SSHS club cruised to the 19-point romp.
"We could've had better intensity in the fourth quarter, but that's part of the learning process," Eckles said. "I'm happy to get back on track. We've got to keep working to get better because we've got a lot of big games left."
Playing without Anderson, the Cougars backcourt picked up the slack in a big way. Holladay, a senior shooting guard, buried a trio of treys and finished with a game-high 18 points. She also grabbed 14 rebounds, a career-high, gave away seven assists and snared four steals. Her backcourt mate, junior point guard Hannah Woytek, who transferred from North valleys following her freshman year, had a big day as well against her former school. Woytek knocked a pair of 3-pointers and posted 16 points to go along with four assists and five steals.
"Riley and Hannah were great today," Eckles said. "They missed some shots, but they were aggressive on offense. They created for others and they played hard, setting the tone on the defensive end."
Haley Bowen led the host Panthers (7-10) with 13 points.
Spanish Springs improved to 16-5 overall and 7-3 in league play. The Cougars are at home Tuesday to play Galena at 5:15 p.m.