McQueen trailed through most of the first three quarters, but did take a 38-37 lead with just under a minute to go in the third period after Anthony
Martinez knocked down 1 of 2 free throws.
However, Spanish Springs answered as Tyler Emrick made 1 of 2 foul shots of his own and Brian Wilson drained a 3-pointer, putting the SSHS crew back on top, 41-38, after three quarters.
Spanish Springs, which clinched its second straight playoff berth with the win, never relinquished the lead. The game was a far cry from the 71-50 romp Spanish Springs took at McQueen three weeks ago.
“Absolutely we’re going to take it, no question,” Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. “We did a lot of bad things and we did some good things, but give McQueen credit. They played hard and they are very capable.”
Indeed, the Lancers (10-12, 4-8) did not roll over and play dead. Kyle May dropped in a layup for McQueen that pulled the northwest Reno school within two, 49-47, at the 3:20 mark of the final period.
The two teams traded buckets to a 51-49 score with 2:51 showing on the game clock. That’s as good as it got for the visiting Lancers. Spanish Springs scored 10 of next 12 points to put the game away. Emrick had eight of the points in that late surge.
The Cougars 6-foot 7-inch senior center led all scorers with 17 points. Wilson, who buried four 3-pointers on the night, chipped in 14 for Spanish Springs while Taelor Marchbanks added 10.
“I think truly what hurt us is our lack of size and toughness. Emrick really hurt us late,” first-year McQueen coach John Franklin said. “But I’m proud of my guys. They stayed scrappy and were right there all the way through. We’ve been eliminated from the playoff hunt for about two weeks now, but these guys have still played hard every time out.”
Spanish Springs led 61-51 after its late burst. The 10-point gap was the widest margin of the night. McQueen’s Rollins Stallworth ripped the twine on a trey as time expired to account for the final score.
“With that lineup we had and them being down, they had to get out of their zone and go man. Tyler was able to dominate at that point. His free throws were huge,” Penney said, alluding to Emrick’s 9-of-12 showing at the foul line Friday.
Stallworth and Joe Sarem both scored 13 points for McQueen and Pat Myatt finished with 12.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair. Spanish Springs grabbed a quick 11-5 lead, but McQueen scored 10 straight points to jump ahead 15-11 early in the second period.
Spanish Springs proceeded to go on a 15-2 run, capped by a Marchbanks 3-pointer, that saw it forge ahead 26-19. Unfortunately for Cougar fans, McQueen scored nine of the final 15 points before halftime and trailed by just six, 32-26, at the game’s midway point.
The Cougars complete their regular season with a conference clash at Reed today at 5 p.m. The winner is the HDL’s third playoff seed while the loser will be the fourth.