Sparks senior Keiffer Putman curled off of a screen and drained a three with ease for the Railroaders’ opening basket of their game against Lowry. On the next trip up the court, the ball again found Putman’s hands, but this time instead of falling through the bottom of the net cleanly, the ball bounced in and out. That is how the rest of the night went for the Railroaders as they shot just 29 percent from the field and 21 percent beyond three-point range, dropping the weekend affair to the Buckaroos, 53-30.
“The bottom line is we shot the ball horrible,” Sparks coach Dan Schreiber said. “I don’t think we really were pressured offensively. We were given open shots, but we just couldn’t score. It wouldn’t go in. We were wide open on some and couldn’t get anything to fall.
“It’s hard to be mad because the one thing I can’t make the kids do is score the ball. It’s either in that night or not. We can run picks and box out, but if that ball is not going in the basket, there’s not much you can do. It’s hard to get worked up about it because it’s either there or it’s not. You can’t force a kid to put it in the basket. The shots were there, but it just wasn’t going for us tonight.”
Lowry took advantage of the Railroaders’ off night right off the opening tip as it jumped out to an 11-3 lead with just over two minutes left in the first quarter. The Buckaroos extended their lead to 16-8 at the end of the quarter.
In the second quarter the visitors continued to widen the gap as Sparks went on a cold streak to end the first half.
With the scoreboard reading 23-14 in favor of Lowry and 3:47 on the clock, the Railroaders hit a dry spell for the remainder of the half that allowed Lowry to string together 12 unanswered points for a 35-14 advantage at the break. Many of the Buckaroos points came via Sparks’ turnovers.
“If our shot is not falling, we start to lose focus of the whole game,” Schreiber said. “It’s not the end of the world. If we play good defense and get some stops, we can work our way back. We just have to have better composure and not turn the ball over because those kill us.”
The intermission did not help Sparks warm up as the cold streak stretched into the first three minutes of the third quarter, putting the Railroaders in a 39-14 hole at the 4:50 mark of the third. The Railroaders scored just five points in the quarter as Lowry took a 43-19 lead with the fourth remaining.
Putman led the Railroaders with nine points.
Sparks (2-3) will look to bounce back as it hosts Fallon today at 3 p.m.
On the girls side, the Lady Railroaders did not fare much better than their male counterparts, losing to Lowry 46-26.
Scoring just a single basket in the first quarter, Sparks dug itself an early hole that it was never able to climb out of, handing the Buckaroos a 13-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Sparks rallied back momentarily in the second quarter, tallying 14 points before the intermission to cut the deficit back to single digits with Lowry ahead 25-16.
The Buckaroos responded in the third quarter as they pushed their edge to 34-21 before closing out the game in the fourth quarter. Lowry held SHS to just five points in the final quarter.
Although the Maroon and Gold was saddled with the defeat, coach Frank Avilla remained optimistic afterward.
"They're learning. They're getting there," Avilla said. "We're green. We have to get a little stronger on our possessions but I felt good about their response to what we're trying to do. We accomplished some certain things. We broke through the press tonight instead of just panicking. It's a work in progress, but they're all starting to buy in and they're working hard."
Krystal Parker led the scoring for the Railroaders with 11 points while Katelynn Vandever added eight points on the evening.
Sparks (0-3) hosts Fallon today at 1:30 p.m.