Coming off of tough 70-47 and 65-43 defeats to Galena and Hug respectively, Sparks was pitted against yet another Division I North foe in Bishop Manogue. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Maroon and Gold found itself down 43-37. Fortunately for the Railroaders, they mustered more than enough strength in the final eight minutes of the contest to outscore the Miners 26-12 and leave the Brickhouse with a 63-55 victory.
“We just kept our composure,” Sparks head coach Dan Schreiber said. “The big key was that we played hard for 32 minutes. They left it on the floor. I told the kids before the game ‘I want to walk into this locker room at the end of the game and win or lose, know that we left everything we had on the floor,’ and they did that.”
After a tight first quarter left the Miners on top 13-12, Sparks (4-5) battled back in the second quarter to take a slight 29-26 edge into the intermission. A slow third quarter for the Railroaders handed the lead back to Manogue out of the break.
Tallying just eight points in the third, Sparks watched as the Miners catapulted ahead 43-37 by the end of the quarter. Luckily the Railroaders had some gas still left in the tank to take their first win of the tournament.
“I’m so proud of the kids,” Schreiber said. “We’ve played 96 minutes of basketball in the last 24 hours. By no means were any of those games easy. Galena, Hug and Manogue, I’m not sure if you could get a worse combination in the city of Reno, and on top of that, in 24 hours. The kids just played hard.
“We’re still young and we’re still learning things. They’re starting to really figure out what we’re trying to accomplish, and I think we saw that tonight for the first time for a complete game.”
Senior guard Keiffer Putman led the Railroaders in the winning effort with 15 points, including a trio of three-pointers. Isaiah Campbell chipped in on the night with 13 points while Bobby Brown and D.J. Devine both added 10 points each.
In the earlier contest of the day, Sparks was outmanned by Hug’s athleticism as the Hawks grabbed a 65-43 victory.
“I give Hug credit for getting us off of our game,” Schreiber said. “Their aggressive defense really just took us out of our offensive sets. They made us do things that were out of character.”
The speed and length of the Hawks held the Railroaders to just nine points in the first quarter and six in the second. Hug worked its way to a 34-15 lead at halftime. Sparks was never able to cut the deficit below double-digits as the Hawks coasted to the win.
Putman provided the lone bright spot for the Railroaders in the first match-up, accounting for nearly half of the team’s total with 22 points.
Sparks will now play Rite of Passage today at 4:30 p.m. The game is scheduled to be played at Wooster High.