We all knew the Spanish Springs boys basketball team was going to be good this year.
Led by Player of the Year candidate Marcus Loadholt, and fellow all-region selection Josh Prizina, the Cougs brought plenty back from last year’s squad that won the program’s first league title.
Coach Kyle Penney’s bunch is off to a 3-1 start but could easily be 4-0 if not for some late mistakes and a brutal night at the charity stripe in a five-point loss to Vintage (Calif.) in the Napa Wine Classic. They also rolled by 53 in their DI North opener against a Wooster team that will take its lumps this winter.
After one week, it’s still far too early to know exactly how good the Cougs are. And we may not know until February. But we will start to get a pretty good idea over the next four days. This is without question their toughest stretch of the schedule, especially considering the first two games are considered league contests.
Tonight, Spanish Springs hosts Bishop Manogue. The Miners are off to a 3-1 start and finished second in their perennially tough Wild West Shootout. On Thursday, the Cougs host Carson, a team that fell in the DI North title game a season ago and figures to be one of the final teams playing once again. On Friday, the Cougs host Moreau Catholic. The private school located outside of Oakland is ranked No. 21 in the nation by maxpreps.com.
On paper, Friday’s contest will be a learning experience for a team that has just three seniors. The outlook is not nearly as conservative for the Carson and Manogue games. Those games are more than measuring sticks. They are crucial.
You can’t win a league title in December. But you can lose one.
Losses in both those games would put the Cougs in a chasing position just three games into their DI North schedule. A split would be considered a successful week. A sweep would instantly apply the pressure to Reno and McQueen—the two squads most believed to push the Cougs for the No. 1 seed.
The regional quarterfinals don’t start for 70 days. But these games are going to feel like February.