Spanish Springs, which was back on the hardwood after an eight-day layoff, struggled offensively through the first three periods but broke loose for 24 fourth-quarter points to notch the comeback win and post a sweep of a home-and-home series between the two schools over the last two seasons.
Colfax built its biggest lead of the game at 31-25 after Audrey Lewis drained two free throws with 18 seconds remaining in the third period. That score remained intact at the conclusion of the third quarter.
Unfortunately for Colfax, that's as good as it got. Spanish Springs, which finished 1-of-13 in the game from 3-point land, got its only trey of the contest when freshman Riley Holladay dropped a 3-point bomb a minute into the final quarter. That long-range jumper cut the visiting Falcons' lead in half, 31-28. It also started an 8-0 Spanish Springs run that was capped by a Kaylie Humphreys layup fed by a nifty wrap-around baseline bounce pass from freshman Lyndsey Anderson.
The key spurt forged Spanish into a 33-31 lead, their first edge since the first quarter.
The two teams traded buckets to a 35-35 score, but Spanish Springs went on top 37-35 on an Anderson layup. The host Cougars never trailed and were never tied again.
Michelle Walker made of 1-of-2 free throws for Colfax with 3:27 showing on the game clock, but back-to-back Anderson buckets stretched the SSHS advantage to 41-36.
Colfax got as close as 43-40 when Walker dropped in a layup with 1:02 still left in the contest. The Falcons tried to play the “foul-and-hope game” down the stretch, but it didn't work. Spanish Springs, which is shooting less than 50 percent as a team on the season from the charity stripe, made all eight of its free throws in the final two minutes to hold its California guests at bay.
Spanish Springs finished 14-of-21 at the free-throw line, but was just 17-of-53 (32 percent) from the field.
The Cougars turned their defensive fortunes in the second half, specifically in the fourth quarter, forcing the Falcons into turnovers and taking more contested shots. After shooting 11-of-20 (55 percent) from the floor in the first two quarters, the Falcons were just 8-of-28 (28 percent) after halftime.
“We had a real defensive good fourth quarter, but I thought we did enough throughout where we were kind of keeping them where we wanted,” Spanish Springs coach Christine Eckles said. “I actually thought we played pretty good defense throughout but then we got them to turn it over in fourth quarter and we got some transition buckets to get the win.”
Colfax shooting guard Cassandra Campbell, the Falcons' leading scorer, finished with a team-high 12 points but was shut out in the second half.
Spanish Springs fell behind 7-1 in the opening minutes of the initial period. But the Cougars rallied with eight unanswered points, capped by an Ari James layup, for a 9-7 lead with just over two minutes to go in the first quarter.
Colfax (4-7) scored the next seven points over a three-minute span that bridged the first and second quarters. The Falcons did not relinquish the lead until Spanish Springs proceeded to go on its telltale late outburst.
“I don't think it (the early offensive struggle) was the eight-day layoff,” Eckles said. “I just think it's consistent with how we've played. We've struggled to do things offensively as well as we'd like. We've worked on it and we're getting better at some things. We got the shots we wanted but we weren't able to finish early on.”
It looked like Spanish Springs might get going offensively a quarter earlier. A pair of layups from Jackie Moore knotted the score at 21-21 with a little over five minutes showing on the third-period clock.
That wasn't the case. Colfax responded by outscoring Spanish Springs 10-4 through the remainder of the third.
Jessica Fralick and Anderson led eight different Cougars in the scoring column, both chipping in 10 points toward the winning cause. The night marked the first time Fralick had posted double digits during her two-year varsity career.
“One thing I like about this team is I think we have some depth and different kids that can score in different situations,” Eckles said. “Tonight, Lyndsey (Anderson) gave us key offense and Jessica was big. We've been putting pressure on her in practice that she needs to contribute more on the offensive end of the floor. She did that tonight. Hopefully, it's good for her confidence.”
Spanish Springs snapped a three-game losing skid with the win, improving to 7-4 overall. The Cougars wrap up their non-league schedule when they compete in the four-day, 16-team Bulldog Invitational hosted by Folsom (Calif.) High School Monday through Thursday next week. The SSHS crew opens against Franklin High of Stockton Monday at 7:30 p.m.