For only one of the four 4A basketball programs in the Rail City, the undefeated Reed girls, the postseason looks like a sure thing. But for the Spanish Springs girls and Reed and Spanish Springs boys teams, they will need strong second-half pushes to make the playoffs.
The Cougar boys are in the best position of the three, sitting at 4-4 in league play. The SSHS girls are next best at 3-5, while the Reed boys are only 2-6.
“Obviously we need to get better. Now we have to get over that hump and start winning some of these games,” Reed boys basketball coach Dustin Hall said. “We’ve had some close ones that could have gone either way, but we couldn’t quite get them. We have to continue to improve and learn how to win some of these close games.”
Each team has had to play a new league schedule this year. The High Desert League and Sierra League schools each play each other once with those games counting toward their league records.
Coaches are pretty much in agreement that they like playing teams from the other league, but the timing and the fact they count toward their league record isn’t ideal for numerous reasons.
“I still have the same stance. I don’t mind that we have to play the crossover games. I just wish they didn’t count,” SSHS girls basketball coach Christine Eckles said. “We just don’t have a lot of time to work on stuff. If you wanted to work on something and maybe take a loss just to get some work in on something, it wouldn’t have been as important as it is now. Now, you have to be ready to play every game and every game is going to matter.”
Every team was put in the same position, jumping right into the league schedule. Still, not every team entered the season in the same position. The Cougar boys had to figure out what type of style they wanted to play due to the addition of two big men transfers that gave the team a new weapon.
Because of those questions entering the season, Spanish Springs had to figure it out on the run with games counting from Opening Night.
“It hasn’t changed the way I approach coaching or what we do. Obviously it changes the importance factor of the games early on,” SSHS boys basketball coach Kyle Penney said. “You’re playing league games with not a lot of experience. That makes a huge difference because you’ve got to win those games, which may come down to a tiebreaker. You don’t know how truly important those early games will be until all is said and done. For us, we’re kind of behind the upper echelon programs, so that’s a great time for us to gain some ground, but we’re not able to do that.”
Hall agreed that he liked the crossover games in order to gauge the teams from the other side. In years past, you had to wait until the playoffs to see which side truly was better but now there will be no surprises when the postseason rolls around. He also echoed the other coaches’ sentiments that he didn’t like playing league games in November and early December.
Teams start the second half of the league season Friday night. Reed is hosting North Valleys, while Spanish Springs is on the road against Hug.