Sparks had huge first and fourth quarters and rolled to an 80-55 victory over Lassen at the Brickhouse.
The Grizzlies simply couldn’t hang with the Railroaders in the first eight minutes. Sparks built its lead up to double digits by the midway point of the first quarter, 14-4.
It just got bigger from there.
Senior Martin Jordan put the home team ahead 26-9 when he drained a deep 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer.
However, Lassen woke up in the second quarter. The visitors opened the quarter on a 10-1 run to get the deficit back down to single digits, 27-19.
Caleb McCoy’s breakaway layup with 3:58 left in the first half capped that run. Lassen took advantage of Sparks not getting back on defense to pick up a handful of cherry-picking baskets.
“I think we got a little bit tired. We built a lead and kind of relaxed a little bit,” said Sparks assistant coach Mike Jones, who enjoyed standing up for a change and barking out orders in place of head coach Dick Lee, after the game. “I thought Lassen started shooting the ball a little bit better, but it might have been because our hands were down. We didn’t have high hands like we wanted.”
While Sparks answered with the next seven points, the Grizzlies closed out the half by scoring seven of the final eight points to pull within seven points, 39-31, the closest the game had been since early in the first quarter.
It got closer in the second half.
Devin Runnels knocked down a trey from the wing, making it a 39-34 game. Lassen trailed by five points on four different occasions during the first three and a half minutes of the third quarter, but never got closer than that.
Five straight points by Jordan pushed the gap back up to double digits, 50-40, with 3:24 remaining in the third quarter.
The Maroon and Gold outscored its opponent 18-11 in the period, regaining control with a 57-43 edge heading into the last eight minutes.
Lassen couldn’t get closer than that 14-point buffer in the fourth quarter.
A late 8-0 spurt forged the Railroaders ahead 78-53, the game’s highest margin.
“We talked about our goals heading into the game, which were having high hands and making the big guys put it on the floor so we could create a couple turnovers,” Jones said of the halftime talk. “We’re looking to get deflections and not so much steals one-on-one. It’s paying off quite a bit. Guys are willing to go after loose balls on the floor. They’re playing with some quickness.”
Jordan led all scorers with 26 points. Teammate Brian Morgan added 14, while Erik Garcia and Chris Sampan both contributed 11.
Richard Murphy was Lassen’s leading scorer with 11 points. McCoy chipped in with 10 in the losing cause.
Sparks (1-0) will participate in the Carson High tournament this week. The Railroaders play Wooster Thursday.