That drought proved costly for Spanish Springs in a 67-52 High Desert League road loss to Hug Friday night.
Spanish Springs trailed by six at the half, 33-27. Hug extended its edge to 11, 40-29, after a layup by Jawon Bennett-Smith. The Cougars answered with an Austin Damoth putback at the 5:11 mark of the third period. Unfortunately for the guests, they did not score again in the third quarter and Hug proceeded to rip off 14 straight points, closing out the quarter and forging ahead 54-31, heading into the final eight minutes.
"Our defense leads to our offense," Hug coach Keith Crawford said. "Our defense took them out of what they wanted to do."
Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney had similar sentiments.
"That third quarter, that's the game," he said. "Obviously, we didn't get any offensive execution. We must execute our offense, even when we're not shooting well."
The Cougars began to show some signs of life again the fourth quarter. They began the final period with a 9-2 spurt that was capped by a Zach Shaw baseline jumper, trimming Hug's lead to 56-40 with five minutes remaining in the contest.
However, the Cougars could never really throw a scare into their hosts. They never got closer than 14 points in the final four minutes of play en route to getting saddled with the 15-point defeat.
The Cougars, who hung a 64-46 shellacking on the Hawks at Spanish Springs in mid-December, looked primed for another upset through the early going. A Kenny Meyer jumper and TJ McCauley layup on back-to-back SSHS possessions put the Cougars on top 10-6 with just over four minutes left in the first quarter.
However, that was as good as it got. Hug scored 15 of the next 16 points and never trailed again. The run, which bridged the first and second quarters, took the Hawks less than four minutes and left them holding a 21-11 advantage.
"We had more energy this time," Crawford said, alluding to his team's earlier loss at SSHS, in which it was playing its second game that day. "We were able to do what we wanted the whole game defensively, which was pressure the ball ... The biggest difference was we didn't play two games in one day this time. We did a good job preparing and the kids did a great job executing."
Despite the early double-digit deficit, Spanish Springs had some fight left. A 10-2 Cougars run pulled the Sparks school within one, 24-23, after a 3-point play by McCauley.
The difference was still one, 28-27, after McCauley made four straight free throws following a shooting foul and a technical foul against the HHS hoopsters.
Hug got a jumper from Rian Narra and a 3-pointer from Masaki Nakayama, finishing the first-half scoring and accounting for its 33-27 halftime lead.
Sam Williams and Raymond Kerr both posted 18 points to lead Hug (18-6, 11-3). The Hawks got 11 points each from Knock Bluehorse and Nakayama.
Damoth finish with 18 points to lead Spanish Springs, which also got 15 points from McCauley and 10 from Meyer in defeat.
"The kids competed. This was not a 15-point ballgame," Penney said. "We took a step forward. We didn't shoot well and we didn't execute, but we competed. We can get better from this."
The Cougars (14-9, 8-6) will host McQueen Tuesday at 7 p.m.