Sparks held Knutson and the rest of the Fernley offense in check en route to a 64-35 romp in boys prep basketball action at SHS Tuesday night.
Sparks clamped down on the Fernley star thanks to a stifling box-and-one defensive scheme. Knutson, who averages nearly 20 points an outing, was limited to four points Tuesday night and as he struggled so did his Fernley teammates.
“We have one player that everyone kind of looks to shut down,” Fernley coach Derek Miller said, alluding to Knutson. “We run a lot through him and Sparks did a good job. That’s the first box-and-one we’ve seen and we need to sharpen up.”
Knuston was held to only one bucket on the night and that came with three minutes remaining before halftime. His only other points came on a pair of third-period foul shots.
The Railroaders’ defensive lockdown of Knutson was not lost on their coach.
“Our kids really buckled down on him,” SHS coach Dan Schreiber said. “We didn’t want him to get the ball back after he gave it up. We wanted to make the other guys create and I thought that really showed.”
Sparks created plenty for itself in the early going. The Railroaders blew the game open quickly by reeling off the first 19 points of the non-league affair. Fernley did not score through the first six minutes of action.
Sparks snared a 22-4 lead after the first period of play. The Railroaders quickly extended their lead to 20 points, 27-7 two minutes into the second quarter. Fernley scored to make it 27-9, but Sparks kept pouring it on, putting together a 14-3 spurt. Brian Morgan’s layup with 48 ticks to go before the break made it 41-12 in the local school’s favor.
Sparks led 41-15 at the intermission.
The margin was 23, 47-24, after a jumper by Fernley’s Corey Cervantes at the 2:45 mark of the third quarter. Sparks responded with an 11-0 burst, capped by an Xavier Rodriguez floater. The basket saw Sparks forge ahead 58-24 and ballon its lead over the 30-point mark for the first time in the contest.
That 34-point gap was the widest of the night. Fernley got no closer than 27 points in the fourth quarter.
Rodriguez had 14 points to lead the Sparks offense while Morgan chipped in 11 and Keiffer Putman added 10.
Kevin Montgomery had 11 points for Fernley but was the lone Vaqueros player to hit for double digits in the scoring column.
Sparks, which goes to Fallon Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. game, improved to 10-4 with the victory. Fernley fell to 6-9 in defeat.
•A slow start turned into a long night for Sparks in the girls game. The Railroaders could not overcome a three-point first period and were saddled with a 53-35 home loss to Fernley.
The visiting Vaqueros ran out to a 14-3 advantage at the first quarter’s conclusion and never looked back. Fernley just continued to build on its lead from there. The Lyon County school extended its edge to 25-10 by halftime and 41-20 after three quarters.
Fernley got a big offensive outing from Maria Sanchez, who torched the SHS defense for a game-high 22 points.
Krystal Parker led Sparks with 14 points.
Sparks plays at Fallon Saturday at 2 p.m.