“I don’t think we played at the intensity level that we needed to,” Spanish
Springs coach Christine
Eckles said. “We didn’t really run our defensive philosophy. I thought we were running up at people, letting them dribble by us. We just didn’t bring it. Luckily, in the third quarter we played better. That’s good that the girls responded after not playing well in the first half, but then we dropped again in the fourth quarter. These are all just good learning tools for us.”
After Elko scored the opening basket of the game, the Cougars went on an 8-0 run to grab an 8-2 lead at the 4:51 mark. A poor Cougars effort on the glass allowed the Indians to cut the lead to one with a 9-4 run to close the quarter. Spanish Springs held a 12-11 edge after the first eight minutes.
The second quarter saw more of the same from both teams. After tying the score at 19, Elko retook the lead on a free throw with 1:11 left in the half. Two turnovers by the Indians handed the lead right back to Spanish Springs though, sending the Cougars into halftime with a 23-22 advantage.
A different team came out of the Spanish Springs locker room after the intermission. Following two quick Elko buckets that gave the guests the lead at 25-23 a minute into the third quarter, the Cougar defense shut down the Indians. Using a full-court press to force a flurry of turnovers, Spanish Springs went a monster 22-2 run in a span over six minutes. In one stretch, the Cougars scored 17 unanswered. The dominating quarter pushed the Cougars’ lead from one point at the half to 45-29 at the end of the third.
“We talked to them at halftime about coming out and doing what we needed to do, to gets stops with our defense,” Eckles said. “We got some stops and got some easy buckets. That put a little pressure on them. We tried to keep the ball out of their point guard’s hands to make them a little bit uncomfortable. So that was good to see us respond, but we weren’t able to maintain it in the fourth.”
A large key to the Spanish Springs explosion was junior guard Sam Owens, who scored 12 of her game-high 14 points in the third quarter.
“She played good, and it all started with her defense and getting easy buckets,” Eckles said. “That’s when Sam’s most successful, when she’s playing hard on the defensive end and turning that into offense for herself.”
Elko attempted to put together a comeback effort, but the deficit proved too large with too little time. The fourth quarter consisted of play similar to the first half with both sides committing sloppy turnovers and frequently going to the free throw line.
Alongside Owens, Cougars sophomore point guard Hannah Woytek also scored in double-digits, ending her night with 13. Junior guard Riley Holladay chipped in on the winning effort with seven assists, six steals, and five rebounds. Junior forward Lyndsey Anderson finished with eight rebounds while Morning Rose Tobey tallied seven points, six rebounds, and five steals.
The Cougars forced 27 turnovers, but committed 23 of their own. They also out-rebounded the Indians 40-36.
“I thought we got good shots. We just weren’t putting the ball in the bucket and then we weren’t rebounding from that,” Eckles said. “We weren’t getting offensive rebounds and making somebody pay. On top of that, we had a lot of turnovers. I think it’s a good lesson for us. We had a good win on Tuesday, but that game’s over and you have to bring it the next day. I think we’re lucky to get out of here with a win. Hopefully, we learn a good lesson.”
Spanish Springs will look to stay undefeated on the young season when it tips off at 6 p.m. tonight against Pleasant Grove, Calif. in Day 2 action of High Sierra Winter Challenge.