Spanish Springs led 21-18 after the first period, but outscored North Valleys 20-5 in the second to take control. The hosts led 41-23 at the break after the pivotal second period.
"We started talking about defense at the break between the first and second quarters," Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. "We weren't really good defensively early. North Valleys didn't have to earn anything. Defensively, we had some breakdowns and a lack of good movement so they got some easy things. We talked that in the second quarter we have to be better defensively. Then we got some transition buckets and stuck with it.
"When you can gets some points in transition off your defense, that makes the game a lot easier. And that's the funnest part of a basketball game, to get some transition offense. If you have to come down and drag it out on offense in a half court set the whole game, that makes it tough, unless you're really good fundamentally. But it makes your half-court offensive sets even easier too."
North Valleys outscored Spanish Springs 17-16 in the third quarter but the SSHS cagers bounced back in the fourth, outscoring their guests 14-11.
Spanish Springs finished the game shooting 27-of-65 (42 percent). Senior point guard Kenny Meyer finished with a game-high 35 points on 12-of-20 shooting, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
" Kenny had a lot of open looks and kids were finding him too," Penney said. "You can't just credit Kenny. He had a great night but guys were getting him the ball and setting screens for him so those are good things for him too."
Hunter Pinto chipped in 11 points to the Cougars' winning cause. Spanish Springs also got a solid all-around effort from senior forward Dupree Kness, who contributed six points, 14 rebounds, five assists and five steals.
"Dupree did great job for us," Penney said. "He is a good defender for us. He's good laterally and not afraid to guard anyone. He's doing a lot of things that go unnoticed."
Penney was pleased to see is club improve to 12-7 overall and 7-2 in conference clashes. Still, the Cougars' seventh-year coach wants to see his team get better.
"We had a goal to be 1-0 today," Penney said. "We accomplsihed that but the more positive thing going forward is there is still growth ahead for us. We as coaches must make sure we get consistent in the things we do. We can get better. There are a few things today that we let get away from us in terms of the standards we set and how we play. So, we must continue to still get better."
Spanish Springs plays Bishop Manogue at home Saturday. Tip time is 4:30 p.m.
On the girls side. Spanish Springs protected its home court and handed North Valleys a 60-32 drubbing in a HDL tilt, also Friday.
Spanish Springs, which lost at North Valleys in December, rebounded in a big Friday to earn a split of the season series and capture a potential key playoff tiebreaker edge over the Panthers.
The SSHS girls upped their overall mark to 13-4 and their league mark to 5-4 after dumping North Valleys.
Senior guard Mariah Vargas led the Spanish Springs offense, pouring in 22 points, highlighted by a 6-of-7 shooting performance from 3-point land. The long-range show set a Cougars program record for made treys in a game, eclipsing the old mark of five held by four other players.
Spanish Springs also got 20 points from senior point guard Hannah Woytek, who scored 13 first-quarter points to ignite a 25-8 Cougars charge in the initial period. Woytek also gave away nine assists.
Spanish Springs' full court pressure proved too much for North Valleys. The Cougars used it effectively in both the first and third periods when they outscored North Valleys by a combined 40-11 margin.
"The last time we played them we hadn't put in our press," first-year Spanish Springs coach Art Cardenas said. "Tonight, we came in put on the press and got some quick steals and layups."
Spanish Springs hosts Sierra League-leading Bishop Manogue today at 3 p.m.