For the first time in 26 meetings, the Cougars had a reason to celebrate following a game against cross-town rival Reed.
Friday night, Spanish Springs stifled Reed, exposing several weaknesses en route to a 48-28 High Desert League victory in the regular season finale for both squads.
“It feels great. I’m real happy for our seniors. I’m just real happy with our defense. To hold them to 28 is obviously a great accomplishment on the defensive end of the floor,” SSHS girls basketball coach Christine Eckles said. “I think it’s great for our kids and hopefully gives us the momentum going into the playoffs.”
Reed was playing its sixth straight game without all-state guard Gabby Williams, who was lost for the season in the Raiders’ only league loss before Friday night. With Williams, Reed dismantled Spanish Springs 85-61 in the teams’ first contest, the day before Williams tore her ACL.
The game started off well for the Cougars as senior post Laneesha Terrance made back-to-back buckets down low for a 4-0 lead. However, Terrance picked up her second foul less than two minutes in and had to sit until the second quarter.
That was still more points than Reed scored the entire first quarter. The Raiders got a fast-break layup from Tyler Sumpter that cut the deficit to 4-2 and a free throw from T.T. McFalls that made it a 6-3 ballgame.
Spanish Springs closed out the first quarter’s scoring when Reed’s Brooke Cervantes was called for a technical foul while possessing the ball. Riley Holladay made one of the ensuing free throws, increasing the gap to 7-3 at the end of the opening period.
“We had talked about how that they might pack it in on us and we would have to hit some shots. I thought we moved the ball real slow (in the first quarter). I think we were a little nervous,” Eckles said. “We kept talking about how we needed to defend and rebound and get defensive stops, so we can get out on transition. We went on that little run and got into our offensive sets. I thought that really helped us.”
The Raiders scored the first points of the second quarter on a Tina Vernon putback. It was all Purple and White after that.
Spanish Springs answered with a 10-0 run. Holladay contributed five points to the rally, including a 3-pointer when she missed her first attempt and received a kick out to try again from the same spot. The trey gave the Cougars their first double-digit advantage of the night, 16-5, with 4:54 to go before the break. A free throw by Terrance capped the 10-0 run and left the hosts leading 17-5.
The margin never dipped into single digits the rest of the first half. Spanish Springs increased its lead to 14 twice before halftime, but took a 10-point lead into the locker room after Vernon made a jumper in the paint with 26 seconds on the clock and Reed dropped in a buzzer-beater.
Spanish Springs exited halftime looking to build on its 23-13 edge, but it was Reed that came out with a vengeance.
In an ugly first three minutes of the third quarter, the Raiders were winning the battles to loose balls and managed to score the first four points of the second half. Still, Reed never got closer than the 23-17 score. The Blue and Gold could not overcome a 27-17 discrepancy in the turnover battle.
Cougars reserve guard Mariah Vargas took the air out of the Raiders’ sails by swishing a 3-pointer from the corner, increasing the gap back up to nine, 26-17.
After Vernon knocked down a 10-footer, slicing the deficit to 26-19 with 4:40 on the third-quarter clock, Reed scored one point the rest of the quarter.
Spanish Springs had no such problems scoring. Four Cougars scored during an 11-1 spurt that ended the third quarter with the scoreboard reading 37-20.
The Raiders again made the first shot of the fourth quarter, but then watched the Cougars rattle off a string of eight straight points to go up 45-22 with 5:14 left in the game. Spanish Springs enjoyed a 23-point cushion on two occasions, the largest margin of the game.
Each team only had two players in double figures, but Spanish Springs got much more balanced scoring. Holladay and Anderson led the way with 13 points apiece, while Terrance added nine. Holladay and Hannah Woytek both dished out seven assists, and Anderson finished with a double-double after pulling down 10 rebounds.
Vernon paced Reed with 12 points. Sumpter added 10 after hitting a 3-pointer at the final buzzer from way downtown.
With the loss, Reed (19-4, 14-2) falls to the HDL’s second seed, but will still host a home game at 7 p.m. Wednesday night.
“We’re young. I have sophomores and freshmen on the court. Tyler is my junior leader, but we’re young,” Reed girls basketball coach Sara Schopper-Ramirez said. “We hadn’t been tested without Gabby yet. People would ask me ‘how did today go?’ and honestly I wouldn’t know … I’m not disappointed, but we have a lot to work on.”
Spanish Springs (21-6, 12-4) will head to Carson for a first-round matchup in the same place the Cougars were upset last year in the playoffs.