Spanish Springs led 29-27 after a pair of Brandon Delong free throws less than a minute into the second half.
That's when the game turned in McQueen's favor. The Lancers reeled off a 10-0 spurt over the next four and half minutes to grab a 37-29 lead.
"We talked at halftime about sticking to the game plan, containing your man and keeping people in front of you, " McQueen coach John Franklin said. "The kids did that better in the second half."
The aforementioned MHS spurt left 2:44 to go in the third. Spanish Springs got a free throw from Phil Smith and a Delong runner to get back to within five, 37-32 with 1:26 still remaining in the quarter.
Spanish Springs was never that close again. McQueen put together a 14-5 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters. Rollins Stallworth capped the outburst with a free throw, forging the Lancers ahead 51-37. The 14-point gap was the widest margin of the conference clash.
"We were competitive, but it's kind of the same thing," Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. "We had plenty of chances, but it's frustrating because we have to play flawless to compete with the McQueens, Manogues and Douglas(s). We've improved so much but we've got to be perfect. We have stretches where we're not perfect and that's the difference. Again it's unfortunate that this is a league game this early. We'll get better but that's a tough loss."
Penney was alluding to this year's new Northern 4A scheduling plan which has member schools playing four league games in the first three weeks of the season.
The two teams combined to shoot 30 free throws in the final 3:49 of the contest. Spanish Springs got as close as nine on three separate occasions down the stretch but could get no closer.
McQueen jumped out to a 17-10 lead after one quarter on the strength of three Kody Eckert treys in the initial eight minutes of play. The Lancers then opened the second quarter on a 7-2 run that propelled them to a 24-12 lead with five and a half minutes to go before the intermission.
That's when Spanish Springs (4-5, 2-2) began to fight back. The host Cougars reeled off 15 unanswered points before the break and went into the locker room on top 27-24.
"We changed our defenses up and put a little pressure on them looking to create turnovers and get some buckets," Penney said. "We hit some shots right there and got some confidence but overall we shot the ball horrendously. We've got to get some consistency shooting the ball."
Franklin said his team started playing carelessly and taking quick shots late in the second quarter.
"We weren't patient there when they went on their run. We took some ill-advised shots and got out of our game plan," Franklin said.
Delong and Ryan Swanson both scored 15 points for Spanish Springs in the losing effort. Tremor Shetrowski added 13 for the SSHS crew.
Stallworth scored 19 points to lead McQueen, largely on the strength of knocking down 13 of 20 free throws. CJ Grigg contributed 15 for the visiting Lancers.
"Our defense was good, no doubt about it, but it comes down to our execution. We had some opportunities against their press in transition that we missed. We'll make those later as we get better but we missed big opportunities tonight."
McQueen (5-3, 3-1), which is playing in the Wild West shootout hosted by Reno High this week, was playing its second game of the day when it suited up against the Cougars. It had already competed in a tourney tilt during the afternoon.
The Spanish Springs boys do not play again until Dec. 26 at a tournament in San Diego.