“Galena has been a great program in northern Nevada for a long time,” Spanish Springs coach Christine Eckles said. “I believe Coach (Karen) Friel is the best coach around. She just won her 300th career game last week. That’s amazing. So any win we get against the Grizz, we’re proud of.”
Galena tried to hang around throughout much of Tuesday’s Northern 4A crossover league game. It just could never get closer than seven points after falling behind early.
The Grizzlies scored the first point of the fourth quarter on a free throw by Ali Zunino. That got the hosts within seven, 39-32, but that’s as good as it got for the South Reno school.
Spanish Springs responded with an 11-2 run during a two-minute span that virtually put the game away. The outburst saw the Cougars grab a 50-34 advantage with 5:22 remaining in the contest after Morning Rose Tobey dropped down a runner in the lane.
The margin was still 16, 58-42, following a jumper by Cougars sophomore reserve guard Mariah Vargas with 1:06 left. Galena hit 4 of 5 free throws in the final 40 seconds but its fate had already been sealed.
Spanish Springs got a balanced offensive showing. Tobey led all scorers with 16 points while Lyndsey Anderson chipped in 14 and Riley Holladay added 10.
Galena’s leading scorer, sharpshooting senior guard Taylor Schaller, led her team with 12 points, but she knocked down only one 3-pointer and was limited to three field goals.
“I thought we did a good job on Taylor because she can beat you if you let her get going,” Eckles said. “We only gave her one field goal in the first three quarters. We just didn’t give her but a couple open looks all night.”
McKenzie Wasley added 10 for Galena in the losing effort.
The Cougars helped their cause by out-rebounding the Grizzlies 38-33 and and by forcing 23 Grizz turnovers.
Spanish Springs scored the first points of the game on a driving layup that turned into a 3-point play by Hannah Woytek. Holladay knocked down a baseline jumper with 17 seconds remaining in the first quarter and the Cougars led 14-5 at the first quarter’s conclusion.
The Cougars continued to roll. KK Lang drained a 3-pointer at the 3:31 mark of the second quarter to give her club a 28-10 lead, it’s largest of the night.
Galena did manage to stop the bleeding for awhile. It held Spanish Springs scoreless through the rest of the second quarter and climbed back to within 11, 28-17, by the intermission.
Spanish Springs pushed its lead back to 14, 36-22, after Holladay canned a pair of technical foul shots midway through the third period. Galena answered with a 10-3 spurt but that just set the stage for Spanish Springs’ telltale fourth-quarter run.
Spanish Springs is off to its best start in school history at 9-2 and now sits 4-1 in league play. It’s only the second time the Cougs have started that well in league and the first time since the 2007-08 campaign.
“We’ve got wins against maybe the top 2 teams in the Sierra League (Manogue and Galena),” Eckles said. “That’s good stuff. But it’s a long season and we’ve got a long way to go. We’ll keep working to get better.”
The Cougars play again Thursday at North Valleys. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.