Spanish Springs drained 26 of 30 foul shots in the entire game to key its victory. Galena wasn't bad from the free-throw line either, knocking down 12-of-16, but in the end it could not overcome the difference in attempts.
"That's a great percentage for us. And we needed them all," Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. "We attacked the rim. We had gotten away from that in some recent games, but today we did some good things."
Galena's standout guard Caleb Wood buried a pull-up jumper on the baseline to give the visiting Grizzlies a 53-52 lead with 1:30 left on the game clock. That was Galena's last lead of the night. In fact, it was its last points of the night.
On Spanish Springs' ensuing possession, Kenny Meyer drove into the lane and was fouled. He made both free throws for a 54-53 lead. The Cougars got a defensive stop on Galena's next possession and then Meyer was fouled again after corralling a loose ball. He made two more free throws with 27 seconds left.
Wood came down for Galena and his 3-pointer from the top of the key rattled out. Spanish Springs got the rebound, passed the ball up the floor to Meyer and he was fouled again. With 12 seconds left, the Cougars' sharp-shooting junior guard canned two more free throws for a 58-53 SSHS lead.
The last foul on Meyer was an intentional foul so Spanish Springs retained possession. TJ McCauley was fouled quickly after the Cougars inbounded the ball. He made his first attempt but missed the second, accounting for the final 59-53 margin and the lone Spanish Springs miss at the foul line in the final eight minutes of play.
"We only had six turnovers in the game," Penney said. "So the kids are listening and focusing on the things in practice that we're preaching.
"This a big win, but there's still a lot of basketball to be played. It's one win. It won't determine our season. We've got another big game coming up Friday."
Meyer finished with a game-high 24 points, helped largely by his 14-of-16 performance at the free-throw line. McCauley added 14 points and Austin Damoth chipped in 11 to provide some balance to the Cougars' offensive arsenal.
Galena got a putback from EJ Poulsen for the first bucket of the fourth quarter. It gave the Grizz a 41-37 lead just seconds into the period. Spanish Springs responded with a 7-0 run in a span just over a minute. Damoth and Hunter Pinto had layups in the spurt, while Meyer converted a 3-point play.
Following that outburst, Spanish Springs led 44-41 while the game clock still showed 6:04 to play. The hosts extended their edge to 55-50 after two McCauley free throws at the 3:12 mark.
"In a game like that, the importance of each and every possession is huge," Galena coach Brian Voyles said. "They shot more free throws. They got to more 50-50 balls. Those things really stuck out to me ... In a game like that, you could be up four. Then you get a bad shot and a turnover and the momentum changes on a dime."
Despite losing the lead, Galena had an answer -- Wood. He connected on two free throws, made a runner in the lane and a mid-range jumper, giving Galena the lead again, 51-50. Wood finished with a team-high 22 points for Galena.
"Wood is a good player," Penney said. "He made some tough shots, but then he missed some toward the end, too. You have to credit our guys for guarding him in crunchtime."
The two teams traded buckets throughout much of the early going. The game was deadlocked at 15-15 after McCauley made two free throws at the 5:41 mark of the second quarter. Galena put together a modest 6-0 spurt to grab a 21-15 advantage midway through the period.
The six-point lead was Galena's biggest of the game, although it was equaled on multiple occasions.
"We were able to withstand their runs," Penney said. "We hung around on our home court. When you do that, good things can happen."
Galena led 26-23 at the half.
The two teams were knotted at 29-29 after a hook shot by McCauley less than three minutes into the third quarter. Galena strung together another 6-0 run to forge on top 35-29. However, the guests could not pull away and Spanish Springs had enough fight to steal the victory.
Spanish Springs improved to 7-4 in league play and 13-7 overall. Galena is now 8-2 in conference clashes and 18-4 overall.
The Cougars have another pivotal league game Friday when they host Reno at 7 p.m.