Defending state runner-up Reno got hot at the right time and handed Spanish Springs a 58-41 loss in a girls prep basketball High Desert League affair Tuesday night. The loss was the first of the young season for Spanish Springs, which now sits 8-1 overall and 2-1 in conference play. Reno improved to 7-1 overall and 3-1 in league.
Spanish Springs trailed by nine at halftime, 32-23, but opened the third quarter with a 7-2 spurt. A driving layup by Hannah Woytek got the visiting Cougars within four, 34-30, at the 2:40 mark of the third period.
That’s when the wheels fell off the Spanish Springs bus. Reno proceeded to answer with a 17-2 outburst in a six-minute stretch. A Mallory McGwire layup capped the outburst and left Reno leading 51-32 with 4:26 remaining in the game.
“That stretch just killed us,” Spanish Springs coach Christine Eckles said. “We were right there and then Reno picked up its intensity. They got a couple turnovers. They hit a couple shots and extended the lead. Then I thought we hung our heads a little bit and didn’t play as hard as we needed to. All of a sudden we were down 19.”
Spanish Springs outscored Reno 9-8 the rest of the way, but the damage had been done.
“I think we came out in the third quarter and we weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be,” Reno coach Shane Foster said. “We wanted to push the ball up the floor and Gigi (Hascheff) was key in that spurt where we finally did. She got a couple steals, got a couple buckets and a couple fouls.”
The game was tight early on. Woytek’s baseline jumper gave Spanish Springs a 5-3 lead less than three minutes into the game. A Holladay 3-pointer with 2:08 to go in the first left the Cougars down two, 13-11.
Unfortunately for Spanish Springs, Morgan McGwire and Shay Shaw drilled back-to-back treys and Mallory McGwire got a putback, allowing Reno to go up 21-11 at the end of the first quarter.
Still, the Cougars hung around. Laneesha Terrance drained two free throws with 1:15 left before the break, pulling the SSHS club within five, 28-23. Reno answered with a Hascheff layup and jumper in the final 45 seconds of the second quarter to account for the nine-point margin at the break, 32-23.
The 3-point shot was key early on for Reno. The Huskies buried six treys before halftime.
“That was big in us getting ahead,” Foster said. “We didn’t plan on shooting that many threes and to be honest, I hope we don’t do it again. But we knocked some down and got some confidence.”
Eckles said there’s just one reason her team struggled more than in any game so far this season.
“Reno is very good. That’s the bottom line,” Eckles said. “It takes a very good team playing very well to beat them. They shoot the ball so well. They handle it well and they’re huge so you don’t get any easy scores. That makes them hard to beat.
“On a positive note, with the exception of six minutes, we were right there. Our girls have to understand that we’re a good team too. Now, we have to work to do and we must get better, but we can definitely do that. The season is not even three weeks old and if we want to reach our goals, then we must work hard and improve. But there’s certainly nothing stopping us from doing that. So we’ll get back to practice and work to get better for the next one.”
Reno helped its cause by doing a standout job defensively on the Cougars’ two-leading scorers, Lyndsey Anderson and Holladay. The duo had combined to pour in 28 points per game in Spanish Springs 8-0 start. In Tuesday’s defeat, they managed just nine combined points.
Woytek finished with 13 points and Terrance added 10 to lead the Cougars in defeat.
Hascheff, who has committed to play her collegiate basketball at Sacramento State, led all scorers, finishing with 18 points. Morgan McGwire chipped in 10 for the Huskies, who also got 26 points from their three other starters, Mallory McGwire, Shaw and Savannah Schulze.
Spanish Springs held its own in nearly every category on the stat sheet. The Cougars forced more turnovers, 18, while committing 15. They out-rebounded the Huskies 27-24, but Reno made more shots. Reno finished 23-of-52 (44 percent) from the field while limiting Spanish Springs to 14-39 (36 percent).
Spanish Springs is in action again Saturday when it travels to play at Wooster. Tipoff is 1:30 p.m.