Spanish Springs hung around with Northern 4A boys basketball power Bishop Manogue for about 13 minutes of their first-round regional playoff tilt. That wasn't anywhere near long enough to even throw a scare into the Miners, who ran away with a 76-40 romp in the postseason affair Tuesday night.
Manogue led 26-21 with three minutes to go before halftime. A minute and a half into the fourth quarter, the private Catholic school had blown the game open and forged ahead 67-29.
"It comes down to handling pressure and execution," Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. "Their pressure did get to us in terms of us losing composure. We started the game nicely, but it was a combination of things. Their pressure, our lack of composure and then when you don't score, it makes it worse."
The Miners were never threatened after the mid-game explosion. Manogue freshman Remy Dillard got a putback with 1:47 left in the game to make the score 76-33. The 43-point margin was the biggest of the game.
Manogue took control in the second quarter. The Miners outscored their guests 24-11 in the eight minute stretch, extending their lead from four, 16-12, after one quarter, to 40-23 at halftime.
The contest was still tight, 26-21, after Spanish Springs freshman guard Jake Longero got a pull-up jumper in the lane to bounce around and down with 3:04 remaining before halftime.
Unfortunately for Spanish Springs, Manogue reeled off a 14-2 run through the remainder of the second period. A Tremor Shetrawski layup with a minute to go in the second period, after a Sean Shamrock drive and dish, was the only SSHS bucket in the final three minutes of the second quarter.
"I've got a lot of respect for Coach Penney and what he does,” Manogue coach Bill Ballinger said. “His kids play hard. They got the best of what we can do in that second quarter and that's hard to handle."
Manogue got off to a 16-12 lead after one period thanks to a strong offensive start from Ethan Dillard. The Miners forward, who canned seven treys against the Cougars in an early December league meeting, buried four 3-pointers in the initial quarter and had 14 of Manogue’s first 16 points.
Dillard finished with a game-high 30 points. Niles Lujan chipped in 12 points and Brennan Hogan added 10 for Manogue.
"Defensively, we did some good things in the second quarter," Ballinger said. "We started shutting down some things we hadn't earlier. We took away the passing lanes. I thought we played a little tentative early on defensively, but we shot the ball well.
"All year Dillard, Hogan or Lujan has shot the ball really well, usually not at the same time, but that's been huge. We've depended on that."
Junior swingman Brandon Delong finished with 10 points but was the lone Spanish Springs player to hit for double digits in the scoring column.
"Their philosophy is they work harder," Penney said. "They lift harder. They practice harder. They play defense harder. We're similar in that, but their kids have bought into that a little more. It's not that we don't work hard. They're a good team and have skills too."
The Cougars came out from the opening tip as game foes. Delong opened the game's scoring with a 3-pointer 30 seconds into the game but Hogan answered with a 3-point bomb of his own on the Miners' ensuing possession.
Spanish Springs got a pull-up jumper in transition from Tanner Oates on its next possession and led 5-3 with 6:48 still left in the first quarter. That was the Cougars' last lead of the night.
Still, Spanish Springs hung around. The Cougars were down 11-10 after Delong made 1 of 2 foul shots with 3:25 showing on the first-quarter clock.
Manogue was propelled early on by a hot shooting stroke. The Miners made 8 of their first 12 shots from beyond the 3-point arc, helping the Sierra League champions to build an early advantage.
"We came out to compete, no doubt about that," Penney said. "But we were hurt by the things that have plagued us all year. You've got to be mentally tough and handle pressure when things don't go your way. We'd done that the last two games prior to this, but give Manogue credit. They are experienced and they didn't lose their composure."
The loss ends the season for Spanish Springs (11-15). Manogue (22-5) advances to a Northern 4A tourney semifinal against McQueen Thursday night at Carson High at 5 p.m.