That was certainly the case Thursday night when Spanish Springs never trailed against Los Banos and secured an easy 46-28 victory on the first day of an eight-team tournament hosted by the Cougars and Galena.
Javelle Beasley knocked down a jumper for the Tigers to tie the game at 2-2, two and a half minutes into the game.
But the California school hit a dry spell. Los Banos did not score again until the opening minute of the second quarter on a pair of free throws and did not hit its second field goal until almost another two minutes later, a span of nearly eight minutes without a field goal.
Still, Spanish Springs could not pull away. The Cougars led by as little as four points on three different occasions in the second quarter, but five straight points by Kyle Raymond on a 3-pointer and two free throws helped extend the lead to 23-14, the largest cushion of the first half.
On the ensuing inbounds, Los Banos broke the press easily and Riley Zimmer closed the first half's scoring with a layup on the other end.
The Cougars were foul crazy in the first half though and it should not have been only a 23-16 halftime lead. The Tigers made good on 9 of 14 shots from the charity stripe in the second quarter alone when Spanish Springs had 13 first-half fouls and put the visitors in the bonus for most of the second quarter.
"I thought we were where we were supposed to be, but our fouls were just not smart fouls," SSHS boys basketball coach Kyle Penney said. "We had guys cut off and then we'd foul them. They had three field goals at halftime and nine free throws. If they don't go to the free-throw line, what's the score at that point?"
Spanish Springs cleaned up its play after the break. Raymond opened the second half with a layup on a fast break and was fouled. However, he missed his shot at a three-point play and the chance to give the Purple and Teal its first double-digit lead of the game.
The Cougars got that 10-point edge when Thomas Perkins rattled home a 3-pointer for a 28-18 lead with 5:51 to play in the third.
Los Banos got to within seven, 34-27, with 2:08 to play in the third quarter, but it would not be that close again after Spanish Springs held the Tigers to only a free throw in the fourth quarter on the only trip to the foul line in the second half. The Cougars outscored the Tigers 11-1 in the final eight minutes of action.
"The whole game was sloppy," Penney said. "We can't even use that as an excuse because of our expectations and what we preach. It's frustrating to watch because you can't do anything about it."
Raymond led all scorers with 18 points, while Perkins added 10. The duo combined for all three treys by Spanish Springs, although the Cougs were only 3-of-16 from behind the arc. They were 17-of-30 from two-point territory though.
Joey Bennett paced Los Banos (1-1) with nine points in the loss.
Spanish Springs (1-0) continues round robin play against Merced today at 7:30 p.m.
•In Las Vegas, the Spanish Springs girls picked up their first win of the season by knocking off Basic, 46-40, in an early-season tournament.
No Cougar reached double figures in scoring but nine players did find the scoring column in the balanced attack.
While Spanish Springs only managed two points in the second quarter, it was still able to manage a 18-18 tie at the intermission.
Trailing 28-24 midway through the third, the Cougars went on a 16-4 spurt that saw them take the lead for good.
"The second half we played with better urgency," SSHS girls basketball coach Christine Eckles said. "We did some things better offensively that we've been working on. We played better defense in the fourth quarter, holding them to just six points.
"We had good balanced scoring, and I feel pretty good knowing we can win a game with Ari (James) only scoring six points and not having Kelly (Hernandez)."
Kallee Oxborrow was the leading scorer for Spanish Springs with nine points. James had six points and nine rebounds.