Spanish Springs was cold early and didn't score for more than four and a half minutes to open its conference clash against Hug. But it got warmed up in a hurry and wound up rolling to a 58-26 romp in girls prep basketball action.
"This was an important game tonight," Spanish Springs coach Christine Eckles said. "We've had the last week off with Finals. It was important to get back after that and compete at a high level. After the first few minutes, I thought we really did that."
Despite failing to score through the first half of the initial quarter, Spanish Springs found itself down just 2-0. Cougars all-league forward, junior Lyndsey Anderson, got a putback at the 3:28 mark of the first quarter for the local school's first points.
The two teams were tied 5-5 after Hug's Christen Voyles drained a 3-pointer with 2:32 still left in the period. That's when Spanish Springs took control. The hosts scored the final nine points of the period and the next 11 points. A Hannah Woytek layup in transition capped the outburst 10 seconds into the second period and forged the Cougars ahead 16-5.
The margin didn't change much over the next seven minutes. The score was 24-14 after Hug's Shaina Carthen dropped in a layup with a minute left in the first half.
Spanish Springs took a 27-14 lead into the locker room at the intermission after MorningRose Tobey made 1 of 2 foul shots and Riley Holladay made a driving layup, both in the final 30 seconds before the half.
Any hopes Hug (6-12, 2-7) had of trying to hang around or cut into the Spanish Springs lead after the break were quickly dashed. The Cougars scored the first seven points after halftime and outscored the visiting Hawks 17-4 in the third period.
Spanish Springs continued to pour it on as various units of SSHS reserves wrapped up the game by outscoring Hug 14-8 in the last eight minutes.
The Cougars dominated the game by getting extra chances. They forced 33 Hug turnovers and got 20 offensive rebounds.
"I was really pleased with our girls tonight because I thought they all bought into what our team philosophy has to be, defend, rebound and take care of the ball. Our girls were worried first about team defense and going hard to the glass," Eckles said.
Spanish Springs was far from red-hot in the shooting department. The Cougars were just 21-of-70 (30 percent) from the floor, but limited Hug to just 10-of-43 (23 percent).
Tobey was the lone player to score in double digits for either team, but Spanish Springs did see nine of 11 players on its roster score. Tobey, a freshman guard, finished with 17 points and buried a trio of treys.
"Morning did a great job of knocking down some perimeter shots," Eckles said. "That really helps your offensive flow when somebody steps up and knocks down a couple jumpers to spread the defense and keep it honest."
Spanish Springs improved to 15-5 overall and 7-2 in league play. The Cougars face a stiff test today as they travel across town to face rival Reed, the second-ranked team in the Silver State.
- BOYS -
The Spanish Springs boys basketball team gave league-leading Hug all it could handle for three and a half quarters. It was the last half of the final quarter that did in Spanish Springs and allowed Hug to pull out a 72-65 triumph in a High Desert League battle.
Cougars swingman Brandon Delong buried a 3-pointer and dropped in a driving floater on back-to-back Cougars possessions. The baskets pulled Spanish Springs into a 53-53 deadlock with 4:02 remaining in the contest.
That's when it went downhill for the hosts. Hug ripped off 10 unanswered points over the next two and a half minutes and captured the win.
"We ended up having some unforced turnovers and they went on a little spurt," Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. "We didn't have enough time to get back into it."
Hug eventually stretched its edge to 13, 70-53, following a pair of Andrew Johnson free throws with 41 seconds to go in the conference clash. The Cougars never got closer than the final seven-point margin in the last two minutes.
Spanish Springs led by two at the break, 32-30, but Hug grabbed the momentum right after halftime. The Hawks scored the first nine points of the third quarter and extended their lead to what had been a game-high eight points at the time, 42-34, after a Johnson 3-point play at the period's 5:22 mark.
"They went on a spurt to start the third, too," Penney said. "It was the same thing. We didn't take care of it when needed to. Hug is an aggressive basketball team. They feed off momentum and emotion."
But still, Hug could not run away. Spanish Springs responded with a 13-4 outburst capped by a Kenny Meyer 3-pointer from the top of the key. That gave the SSHS hoopsters a 47-46 lead with 22 seconds showing on the third-quarter clock.
It was the Cougars' last lead of the night.
Spanish Springs got on track early. The Cougars had an 8-2 advantage after Austin Damoth drained two foul shots with 4:11 left in the first quarter. Hug got back to within one, 13-12, but Connor Naisbitt buried a deep 3-pointer as time ran out on the first quarter, leaving the home team on top 16-12.
Hug (14-2, 8-1) grabbed a 23-20 lead after an alley-oop dunk by Sam Williams midway through the second quarter, but a modest 12-7 run by Spanish Springs accounted for the 32-30 halftime score.
Delong posted 23 points and Meyer chipped in 10 for the losing Cougars. Four Hug players finished in double digits in the scoring column. Johnson and Robin Dhatt put up 16 points apiece, while Norris Dupree and Williams added 15 and 14 points respectively.
"We missed some assignments on defense, and at the same time, we were still good enough to hang around even with those missed assignments," Penney said. "I'm extremely proud of our kids. We had some unforced turnovers but we really competed. We've come a long ways."
Spanish Springs (9-9, 4-5) is in action again today as it goes to Reed for a 5 p.m. tilt.