Sparks pulled away in the final 10 minutes of the conference clash and captured a 53-42 Mount Rose League victory Saturday afternoon.
"Our coaches talked before the game today," Sparks coach Dan Schreiber said. "Last night's game at South Tahoe was an emotional one. We left everything on the floor. So it wasn't going to be a surprise if we had a letdown. To get out of here with a win is awesome."
Incline guard Drew Bessette got a runner in the lane to fall through the twine and the visitors pulled to within four points, 35-31, with 2:41 to go in the third period. That's about the time Sparks buckled down on defense and started to pull away from its guests.
The Railroaders responded, ripping off 12 straight points, extending their lead to a game-high 16 points. Keiffer Putman nailed a 3-pointer and Isaiah Campbell buried a mid-range jumper to cap the outburst that left the Railroaders holding a 47-31 advantage with five and a half minutes remaining in the contest.
Incline scored the next five points, but that's as good as it got for the Lake school. The Highlanders could get no closer than 11 points in the final five minutes of the league affair.
The under-sized Highlanders were able to hang through the first half and much of the third period by knocking down some open looks from the perimeter and getting to the rim with penetration.
Incline led 11-9 with under two minutes to go in the initial quarter, but Sparks came back with the last seven points of the first period to forge ahead 16-11.
Sparks connected on a few shots in the second quarter only to watch Incline hang around. The Highlanders tied the game at 16-16 and 24-24 before the Railroaders snared a 27-24 edge at the intermission.
Sparks began the third quarter with an 8-2 spurt only to watch Incline claw its way back at, 35-31, setting the stage for the Railroaders' late-game run.
"Incline does a good job setting up its dribble-drive offense," Schreiber said. "We had to make a little adjustment. We had to step up hard and defend that handoff. When you step back, they get open shots or can turn the corner and get into the lane on you. I won't say it's a lazy mistake, but it's a common one. Once we made that change, we got more stops and pulled away."
DJ Devine scored 19 points and Putman chipped in 18 to lead the Railroaders' scoring contingent Saturday.
Jack Bessette and Jack Clouttier scored 16 and 11 points respectively to lead Incline.
Sparks finishes it regular season on a 12-game winning streak. The SHS hoopsters sit 18-8 overall and wrapped up league play 14-2. The Railroaders return to the hardwood Tuesday in a Division I North quarterfinal playoff where they host Fernley at 6 p.m.
The SHS girls were not as lucky as their male counterparts, getting saddled with a 41-25 loss at home to Incline.
Sparks faced a 9-5 deficit at the end of the first quarter, but it was outscored 27-7 over the next two periods of play. That left Incline on top 36-12 after three quarters of action. The Railroaders did outscore Incline 13-5 in the last eight minutes of play to make the final score a little more respectable.
Krystal Parker was the lone Railroaders player to hit for double digits in the scoring column, finishing with 13 points. Molly Franklin posted a game-high 19 for Incline.
"We had open looks at shots and we couldn't convert. Incline did," Sparks coach Frank Avilla said. "We had opportunities."
The loss ended the winter campaign for Sparks, which failed to qualify for the postseason.