The Spanish Springs boys basketball team (13-7, 8-2) moved into a share atop the High Desert League standings with a 52-51 home win over Bishop Manogue (6-10, 3-7) Saturday, but they didn’t make it any easy.
“You have to take a win obviously,” Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. “It’s a long week for our kids and we’re not excuse makers, and I’m not going to use the excuse of homecoming week and three games, but still it is, what it is… It’s taxing. It’s a long week for the kids.”
With the game tied at 50, Spanish Springs Kenny Meyer, who scored a game-high 22 points, hit a jumper from the elbow to put his team up two with 1:02 remaining. Then the gates to the zoo swung open.
The Cougars forced a stop, then turned the ball over -- one of their three turnovers in the final minute -- and sent Manogue to the charity stripe where Remy Dilliard, who posted a team-high 16 points for the Miners, split the pair.
Hunter Pinto pulled down the rebound on the miss and was fouled. Not yet in the 1-and-1 situation, Spanish Springs had to inbound the ball with 17.3 seconds left but the Miners tipped the pass and came up with the loose ball.
Manogue proceeded to travel on its next possession, giving Spanish Springs the ball back with nine seconds remaining and a one-point lead.
After two quick fouls, still not in the 1-and-1, Spanish Springs in-bounded a pass but it was errant and went out of bounds, giving the Miners the ball back with 5.1 seconds.
Out of timeouts, Bishop Manogue quickly in-bounded the ball and the would-be game-winning shot clanked off the front iron. Game Over!
“I didn’t know what to do,” Penney said of the late-game scramble. “I didn’t know what to call at that point.”
Following a frantic up-and-down first half that saw the visitors take a 39-33 lead into the locker room, Spanish Springs opened the third quarter on a 12-2 run and carried a 48-44 advantage into the final quarter.
Spanish Springs held onto the lead before Bernard Collin (11 points) put the Miners in front 50-48 with 3:57 left. It would be the Miners’ final points of the night. Dupree Kness, who had his best game of the year for the Cougs, tied the game at 50 moments later.
Kness finished with 20 points, connecting on 10-of-15 shots from the field.
“Dupree is good for us. He is one of our better players,” Penney said. “Every night if you watch, he does the things that goes unnoticed. He really does. He doesn’t get the press the other kids get because of lack of scoring, but he rebounds his tail off and he attacks the ball. He does a lot of great things.”
Bishop Manogue lead by as much as 11, 25-14, with 5:43 left in the second quarter while the Cougars never led by more than four.
Penney said he challenged his group at the half to turn Saturday into a “senior game,” asking his group of seniors to take over. He got what he asked for when it mattered most.
“Our seniors stepped up in our last timeout. We just had a very calm conversation about ‘hey here is what we need to do and this is what’s going to happen,’” Penney said. “Then I asked them ‘hey you talk to me. What do you feel? What do you see?’ Kenny Meyer stepped up and he noticed something and he said, ‘Coach here is what’s going on.’ It was just a great growing basketball moment.”
It was also a moment that resulted in a league win that pushed the Cougars into first place in the HDL.
Spanish Springs will try to stay in first place Tuesday when it plays at Galena. The Grizzlies beat Reed - tied with the Cougars for first place - on Saturday. Tip is at 7 p.m.