Following the dismissal of former head coach Tony Shaw for personnel reasons, Frank Avilla, who also coaches the softball and boys soccer teams at Sparks, stepped in and will remain the coach for the remainder of the season.
To start the game, the Maroon and Gold came out energized under its new coach and grabbed an 8-4 lead that was highlighted by a three-pointer from senior Krystal Parker. With just over a minute left in the first quarter though, Hug knocked down a pair of quick buckets to tie the contest at 8-8 at the end of one quarter.
In the second quarter, the Hawks came out in a full court press and Sparks was unable to handle the strain of the defensive pressure.
Taking advantage of Railroader turnovers on consecutive possessions, Hug grabbed the lead and never looked back.
Hug senior Shaina Canther scored six straight points for the Hawks as the visitors strung together a 10-3 run, catapulting Hug ahead 18-11 just over three minutes into the second quarter.
After Sparks’ Sara Hanson dropped in a shot from the elbow to cut the score to 18-13, Hug ran off a 10-2 spurt to close the first half with a 28-15 edge.
Things did not get better in the second half for the Railroaders as they managed just a single bucket in the third quarter. While Sparks could not find its rhythm offensively, the Hawks continued to force turnovers and scored 22 points in the third quarter to turn its 13-point halftime advantage into a 50-17 stranglehold with one quarter to play.
“There’s no secret, we have to get better on our shooting,” Avilla said. “If we could have converted on some shots underneath, I think you would have saw a different game tonight. We also gave up on our assignments too much. Whether that is a nervousness, a youthfulness or a lack of conditioning, we will figure out as we move on.”
Despite the lopsided loss, Avilla said there were a lot of positives to take away.
“They played 100 percent the whole game,” he said. “They didn’t give up. They supported each other and stayed positive the whole night. They battled and they fought, and we can build on that.
“We’re going to get better. Right now, we’re not in condition. We’re going to try to capitalize on our speed, because we are fast. We had a good tempo tonight. If we get under control, I think we’re going to be okay.”
Carther led the Hawks to victory with a game-high 18 points, while junior Mele Lotulelei chipped in with 14 points.
For Sparks, Katlynn Vandever led the scoring with 11 points. Parker added nine points on a trio of threes.
Sparks (0-2) will host Fallon next Saturday at 2:00 p.m.