It was not meant to be. Spanish Springs got as close as it could possibly get to snaring a win without getting it done.
Hug's Sam Williams tipped in a missed Hawks shot as time expired and gave his team a come-from-behind 55-54 HDL road win at Spanish Springs.
The Cougars led for much of the second half but could not kill off the Hawks in crunchtime.
Spanish Springs led 54-50 after Brandon Delong buried a 3-pointer in the corner with 1:30 left on the game clock. The Cougars even got a stop on the Hawks' next two possessions, but a turnover at midcourt resulted in a Hug breakaway layup to make it 55-52.
Next, Spanish Springs threw away its in-bounds pass, giving the ball right back to Hug. Williams was fouled on the Hawks' ensuing possession and he made 1 of 2 free throws, trimming the Spanish Springs lead to one, 54-53, with 47.9 seconds remaining in the contest.
Spanish Springs proceeded to run 37 seconds off the clock before Hug fouled Cougars guard Tanner Oates. He went to the free-throw line but missed the front end of the bonus situation.
Williams pulled down the rebound. The Hawks missed a runner in the lane and a putback try before Williams grabbed a third try for the game-winning tipin.
"Yes, that was a long 10 seconds," Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. "I think they had two shots off and there was still two seconds left. That's basketball. It's not a game you lose on first shots. It's one you lose giving up second and third shots.
"We have to understand situations. They needed to foul us (in the last minute-plus). Everything should have slowed down for us. We gave them life with the turnovers at the end."
The winning basket gave Hug its first lead since early in the fourth period.
That Hawks lead came at 39-38 after fleet-footed point guard Andrew Johnson converted 1 of 2 free throws at the 6:12 mark of the third quarter.
That's when Spanish Springs responded with an 11-2 outburst to forge ahead 49-41. Phil Smith's dunk capped the run with 3:44 to go in the game.
Unfortunately for Spanish Springs, Hug outscored its hosts 14-5 through the remainder of the league affair to steal the win.
Spanish Springs, which was dumped 77-48 at Hug in the first meeting between the two schools last month, scored the first six points of the game and led 12-8 after the first period.
"The way we handled their pressure was scary at times, but we did a much better job than the first time around. It was the little things that hurt us," Penney said. "We played with more confidence tonight. We all think we're better than what we've shown (this season). I told the guys before the game, 'relish the underdog role because we'll be in it the rest of the way.' I think we did that."
Hug (20-2, 14-2), which won the HDL's regular season crown, rallied to pull into a 16-16 deadlock just over two minutes into the second quarter. The Hawks wound up taking a 27-23 lead into the locker room at the intermission.
Spanish Springs had an answer. The Cougars reeled off the first eight points of the third quarter, a run concluded when Brian Smith dropped in a layup at the 2:51 mark of the third.
The league rivals were knotted at 34-34 when the third quarter ended.
Ryan Swanson poured in a game-high 21 points and Delong added 11, all in the fourth quarter for Spanish Springs.
Johnson was the lone Hug player to finish in double figures in the scoring column, contributing 16 to the winning cause. The Hawks did get some offensive balance as four more players had seven or more points.
Spanish Springs (11-14, 8-8), the HDL's No. 4 seed, returns to action Tuesday for its playoff opener, a Northern 4A first-round regional playoff game at Sierra League champion Bishop Manogue. Start time is set for 7 p.m.
"This is hard because it was good night for our seniors," Penney said. "It was fitting until that last tip. I didn't want to win because it gave us better seeding. I wanted to win for the kids, because they were playing the right way. It's just hard because we played good basketball almost the whole way."