Most everything went the Cougars' way in a 69-39 romp over visiting Elko. Spanish Springs never trailed after the first five minutes and was never really threatened. All 13 Cougars found the scoring column in the lopsided affair.
Elko's Mariah Daniels got a putback midway through the first period that saw the guests take an early 6-3 lead. It was all Spanish Springs (10-9, 1-4 HDL) from there. Cougars senior post Kelly Hernandez pivoted toward the middle of the floor, drew the defense and then drop-stepped on the left-hand side for an easy open layup that started a 30-2 Cougars run that spanned eight-plus minutes and bridged the first and second quarters.
SSHS freshman guard Sam Owens canned two foul shots at the 3:38 mark of the second quarter to conclude the outburst that saw the Cougars forge ahead 33-8.
The Cougars' full-court pressure was key in helping the hosts secure the large lead.
“We had seven or eight straight trips down the floor where it was one pass and jack up a shot or one pass and turnover,” Elko coach Karen Hoem said. “If you do that, this is what happens. I thought we were more prepared than we were.
“It's kind of the same old thing that's been hurting us all year. We struggle offensively and Spanish Springs had some good pressure, which forced us into turnovers.”
Elko (4-12, 1-2) did outscore Spanish Springs 10-5 through the remainder of the second quarter. That left the scoreboard to read 38-18 at the break but the Indians still could not gain any momentum after the intermission.
Elko's Dominique Massie made 1 of 2 free throws with 5:03 showing on the third-quarter clock. That made the score 43-22, but Spanish Springs scored the next 11 points and nixed any faint hopes the Indians had of getting back in contention.
“I thought that we were able to force turnovers in a full-court situation and actually able to turn those into points tonight,” Spanish Springs coach Christine Eckles said. “It was good for us to get off to a good start and then I thought we did good a job of coming out after halftime, in the third quarter, and continuing to play well. That's been an area that's hurt us at times. This was good for the kids to get a win and hopefully get back on the right track.”
The Cougars had lost five of their last six games and three straight before Friday's onslaught.
Spanish Springs did not let up late in the game. Cougars reserve junior guard Amanda O'Farrell gave away an assist to sophomore post Morgan Prince, who dropped in a layup for a 69-27 Spanish Springs lead. The 42-point margin was the biggest of the game.
“We'd been struggling and then we got that league win (last Saturday against McQueen). So we thought we'd turned a corner and were headed in the right direction. To go out like this, weighs extremely heavy,” Hoem said.
Not surprisingly, Spanish Springs dominated the stat sheet. The Cougars grabbed 18 offensive rebounds to help them win the war on the boards, 41-24. The local club also forced 23 turnovers while committing 16. In addition, Spanish Springs shot 26-of-53 from the field (49 percent) compared to Elko's 14-of-35 (40 percent).
“Those are positive things we enforce,” Eckles said. “We talk about that if we do those things, then we have the ability to get good offensive possessions. But it all starts with defending, rebounding and limiting people to one shot. And then tonight, we did a better job of taking care of the ball ... It was nice that we got everybody some time. Plus, everybody contributed in a positive way tonight.”
Owens was the lone Spanish Springs player to hit for double digits in the scoring column, finishing with 13 points to lead the balanced SSHS offensive attack.
The Cougars have won now four straight games against the Indians and seven of the last eight at home against their eastern Nevada league rival.
Next week marks Finals Week for Washoe County schools, which leaves the prep schedule open. The Cougars will not suit up again until they host McQueen Friday at 5:15 p.m.