“You can just tell in these early league games, it’s going to be sloppy,” Reno coach Kyle Schellin said. “I think the score is indicative of where we’re at in the season. The defense is ahead of the offense. I think you’ll see in a couple weeks, when we play again, it will be different.
“We’ve still got playing to do. The majority of kids that play a majority of the minutes, didn’t play a lot last year. So you’re going to see some rough play at times. But ultimately, I’m happy with my team. We gutted it out and we’re 1-0 in league. That’s why we came here and that’s what we wanted to do.”
Reno (4-3, 1-0 HDL) got the win because it was much better in the final six minutes of play.
The visiting Huskies led by 10, 33-23 after Jake Pinocchio canned a pair of foul shots with 1:52 to go in the third period. Spanish Springs (4-3, 0-1 HDL) responded with a 12-2 run, capped by two Brandon DeLong free throws with 5:57 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The outburst knotted the scoreboard at 35-35, but it also proved to tire the host Cougars. Spanish Springs did not score again until senior point guard Thomas Perkins drained a 3-pointer with 7 seconds to go in the conference clash.
Prior to that, Reno had reeled off nine unanswered points, following DeLong’s free throws, to take control of the contest. The Huskies got two free throws from Chris Zumtobel that gave them a 44-35 lead with 12 seconds to go, just before Perkins’ late trey.
“This was a very winnable game,” Cougars coach Kyle Penney said. “It’s the same tune I was singing last year. We’ve got to find a way to beat these guys.
“If we could have just got a bucket (during the late drought), it could have been a different story, but we’re not tough enough right now.”
Spanish Springs got out of the gates well. Perkins dropped a pair of three-point bombs in the first six minutes, the second of which forged the Cougars ahead 13-9 at the 2:40 mark of the first period.
Unfortunately for Cougar fans, Reno dropped in a pair of buckets before the first quarter ended and the scoreboard read 13-13 after the first eight minutes. The two field goals initiated a 12-3 Reno spurt that bridged the first and second quarters.
At the conclusion of the run, Reno’s Trevor English buried two foul shots for a 21-16 Reno lead.
Spanish Springs managed only five points in the second quarter and found itself facing a 24-18 deficit at the intermission. Part of Spanish Springs’ second-quarter struggles was due to Perkins sitting on the bench. He picked up his second foul early in the period and did not return until the final minute of the half when Spanish Springs was on offense.
Another reason the Cougars came up empty on offense through much of the second quarter was its inability to hold on to the basketball. The SSHS squad had 20 first-half turnovers and finished the game with 29.
“We talked as a team and some of the turnovers we had were because of fatigue,” Penney said. “That had something to do with it and maybe some of that’s my fault, but the kids who were out there, they brought it. We’ve still got to find a way to make those plays.”
Spanish Springs made just 15-of-41 (36.6 percent) field-goal tries and was only 2-of-4 from the free-throw line. A disparity at the charity stripe proved pivotal as Reno was 17-of-23 from the line.
DeLong was the lone Spanish Springs player to score in double digits Tuesday, finishing with 10 points.
Zumtobel and English posted 14 and 13 points respectively for Reno.
Spanish Springs returns to the hardwood Thursday. The Cougars will face Granite Bay, Calif. at 6:30 p.m. in a first-round game of the Mesa Verde High School tournament in east suburban Sacramento.