RENO—Galena’s defensive game plan was obvious: Don’t let Marcus Loadholt beat them.
And he didn’t. The Grizzlies held arguably the best player in Northern Nevada to eight points in Friday’s DI North contest at Galena. Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, the Cougars are well-rounded.
The rest of Spanish Springs’ roster picked up the slack and the Cougars pulled out a big early-season road win, 58-52, over the defending DI North champs.
“It’s important. Galena is good and I think down the road, it’s tiebreaker points,” Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. “But not to discredit any game … Everyone is in playoff mode every game.”
Spanish Springs, which was eliminated by Galena in last year’s DI North semifinals, improved to 8-6, 4-2. The Grizzlies dropped to 9-7, 3-3.
Josh Prizina had a big night, finishing with a game-high 20 points, including a transition bucket with 40 seconds left to put the Cougs up 55-48 and all but ice the game. Bryce DeLong finished with 12.
“When your best guy, I won’t say struggles, doesn’t shoot it well … That tells us we have guys who can step up and play,” Penney said. “And guys were ready to do that. And we’re going to need that, every night.”
Spanish Springs built two separate 14-point leads late in the third quarter but couldn’t put the game away. Justus Eaglesmith completed a traditional three-point play to give the Cougs a 41-27 lead before the Grizzlies rattled off nine-straight points to get within 41-36 early in the fourth.
Zach Williams hit a triple from the top of the key with 3:02 remaining to pull the hosts within 48-46. The contest remained within one possession, 51-48, with 56 seconds left before the Cougars scored four-straight points, capped by Prizina’s fast break layup, to end it.
“We’ve done that all year long,” Penney said of letting Galena back in the game. “Our kids are there. We have make sure we secure those possessions and get a bit smarter.”
Dillon Voyles led the Grizzlies with 18 points. Williams had 13.
At the half, Spanish Springs held a 25-16 lead.
The Cougs closed on an 11-3 run to hold a nine-point edge at the break after Galena used an 11-2 run of its own to grind within 14-13 midway through the second quarter.
Thanks to stout early defense, the Cougs led 12-2 a minute into the second quarter after a Prizina steal and bucket on the other end. Galena then used a couple three balls to get within one before Spanish Springs separated in the final minutes of the half.
The Cougars, one game out of first place behind Reno, open High Desert League play on Tuesday night at home against Hug.
“We’re at home and we haven’t won a league game at home yet (losses to Bishop Manogue and Carson),” Penney said. “So I hope our kids understand that and are thinking about that.”
Reed bests Wooster
The Reed boys basketball team got back in the win column with a 71-61 home win over Wooster on Friday night.
The Raiders improved to 5-9, 2-5 in the DI North while the Colts fell to 3-12, 1-5.
Jeremy Ramos scored a team-high 23 points for the Raiders and Lincoln Turner turned in 18. They were the only Raiders to finish in double figures.
Isaac Zinnerman hit six triples for the Colts in the loss to finish with a game-high 27 points.
Reed started quickly, grabbing a 24-12 lead after just eight minutes of play, and rode the fast start the rest of the way.
The Raiders, now done playing Sierra League teams for the regular season, go to McQueen on Tuesday night.
Sparks wins thriller over Dayton
The Railroaders hung on Friday night to grab a narrow 55-54 home win over the Dust Devils of Dayton.
With the win, Sparks improved to just 4-7 overall but 3-1 in DI-A North contests just one season after winning three league games all year. Dayton dropped to 3-9, 0-4.
Danny Lopez led the Railroaders with 12 points. Jesus Nava had 10.
Sparks will to continue its scorching start to DI-A North play on Saturday afternoon at home against Lowry. Tip is at 2:30 p.m.