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Spanish Springs comes up short in playoff opener
by Dan Eckles
Feb 12, 2013 | 2524 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs senior TJ McCauley goes up for a layup during his team's playoff loss to Carson Tuesday night.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs senior TJ McCauley goes up for a layup during his team's playoff loss to Carson Tuesday night.
Northern Nevada's high school basketball fans could not have picked a bad game to check out if they wanted to attend a first-round playoff affair Tuesday night. The 1,700 or so fans at Spanish Springs certainly got their money's worth in a dramatic postseason clash between the SSHS hoopsters and Carson.

Unfortunately for fans of the Purple and Silver, it was Carson that sneaked out of the Spanish Springs valley with a 38-37 Division I North quarterfinal triumph.

Carson's Raef King was fouled on a breakaway layup attempt with less than a second to go in the regional tournament tilt. The Senators senior broke a 37-37 tie by knocking down his first free throw and missing the second.

The last three-tenths of a second expired and the horn sounded on King's missed foul shot, securing the one-point win for Carson.

Spanish Springs, which led for much of the game, had its chances. The Cougars had possession after a Hunter Pinto steal. They got a timeout with 13 seconds left. Coming out of the timeout Cougars guard Kenny Meyer tried to penetrate but when the lane closed up, he lost the handle on the basketball. It was scooped up by a senators player and tipped out to a streaking King, who was then fouled just before the final buzzer sounded.

"We were trying to get the ball to the middle with some penetration," SSHS boys basketball coach Kyle Penney said. "In hindsight, a horrible play call on my part."

The game was also tied at 37s when Cougars post Austin Damoth was fouled. He missed the front end of the bonus free-throw situation, keeping the deadlock intact.

"We had chances," Penney said. "You can't say we didn't have chances. We just didn't finish the game."

Spanish Springs led 21-19 at the half. The two teams combined to score just 11 points in the third period, but the Cougars still extended their edge to 28-23 heading to the final period.

Carson scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to forge ahead 29-28. It was the Senators’ first lead of the game. The hosts responded, scoring six of the next eight points to go back on top 34-31, a modest run capped by a TJ McCauley jump hook and two McCauley free throws.

Still, Carson fought back. It got back-to-back 3-pointers from Matt Nolan and King, putting the guests ahead 37-34. The Cougars got back into a tie at 37-37 when Meyer connected on a 3-pointer with 2:00 remaining in the game.

Spanish Springs, which earned the right to host a playoff game for the first time in school history, looked to have control through much of the first half.

The two teams traded buckets in the first minute and a half, but then Meyer drained a pair of treys and got a putback, helping the Cougars take an early 12-6 lead.

A layup by McCauley at the 5:50 mark of the second quarter pushed the SSHS gang into a 17-8 advantage.

The margin was still nine, 21-12, after a Meyer pull-up jumper with 4:03 left before halftime. The Cougars didn't score again in the half.

That's when foul trouble hurt the home team. Four Cougars, three starters, already had two fouls and sat through the remainder of the second quarter. In that stretch, Carson scored seven unanswered points to get within two at the intermission, 21-19.

"We saw both McCauley and Damoth were out of the game," Carson coach Carlos Mendeguia said. "We talked to the kids that this was an opportunity to push the ball and get to the rack. We definitely saw that and took advantage."

The low-scoring playoff contest was a scorekeeper's dream. Only four Carson players got into the scoring column and just a trio of Spanish Springs players got into the scoring act.

McCauley had 15 points to lead the Cougars while Meyer added 14 and Damoth contributed eight points in defeat.

King had 13 points and Nolan 11 for Carson.

"We held them to 38 but it sure felt like they scored more than that," Penney said. "We started off great in the first quarter. Then late in the second quarter we had three starters on the bench with foul problems. We still got into halftime up two, but they got some momentum in that stretch.

"Foul trouble was a big factor and we could not execute possessions on offense. We got plenty of stops. There were times where we had advantages and had mismatches. We didn't execute on offense like you should in the playoffs."

The loss ends the season for Spanish Springs (15-11). Carson advances into a regional semifinal at home against McQueen Thursday.

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