There’s a phrase that’s universally accepted in sport. Big time players make big time plays in big time moments.
Spanish Springs junior Marcus Loadholt is a big time player.
With the Cougars’ league title aspirations hanging in the balance, with his squad clinging to a 48-46 fourth-quarter lead over first-place Reno, Loadholt scored seven-straight points and led the Cougs to a big 62-51 home win on Tuesday night.
“Marcus isn’t a junior for us, or for anyone else. He’s paid his dues and he puts in his time,” Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. “Grade wise he’s a junior, but player wise, he’s expected to bring senior leadership, senior-type plays, and make big shots.”
With the win, Spanish Springs’ fifth straight, the Cougars improved to 14-7, 10-3 in the DI North and snuck within a game of league-leading Reno (15-6, 11-2), which saw its eight-game winning streak come to a close.
Loadholt’s seven-point barrage ended with a step back triple with 3:50 left that put the Cougs in front 55-46—their largest lead of the night to that point. The Huskies got no closer than eight the rest of the way.
The barrage also capped a 15-point fourth quarter for Loadholt after he was held to just two points in the first three quarters while battling early foul trouble.
“Oh tonight I was like Marcus, ‘you need to pull your head (out),’ and he did,” fellow junior Josh Prizina said. “Marcus is a clutch player, honestly. When he hits shots, everybody gets intense about it. And it’s just great for us.”
Prizina had a big night of his own, finishing with a game-high 20 points and was 6-of-7 from the charity stripe in the final minute to ice the game.
Reno was led by Drew Rippingham, who scored 11 of his team-high 16 points in the second half.
He hit a bucket with 48 seconds left in the third to tie the contest at 36 but Reno never got back in front. The Huskies’ final lead of the night came with 3:16 left in the third, 31-30, on another Rippingham basket.
Loadholt hit his first triple of the night 11 seconds into the fourth quarter to break the 36-36 tie and hit his second 1:18 later to extend the lead to 44-40. The two squads then traded five-straight buckets before Loadholt went off.
“He (Loadholt) was able to gather himself and persevere,” Penney said. “And again, credit to his teammates. There were a couple big plays where someone missed a shot, offensive rebound, now you find him on a kick out where someone loses him. Those are big plays.”
Karn Goraya finished with 11 points for Reno.
Korbin Marcum gave the Cougs quality minutes off the bench, scoring six of his eight points in the first while Loadholt sat.
The Cougars led 24-20 at the half despite Loadholt being held scoreless.
An 8-0 run late in the second quarter pushed the Cougs in front 24-17 with 1:35 left. After a Reno timeout, Rippingham hit the lone first-half triple for either team, in the corner, to get the Huskies within four at the break.
The two teams were tied at 10 after the first quarter despite Reno jumping out to a 6-0 lead.
The Cougars scored the first four points of the second quarter and were in control until David Kyle’s traditional three-point play pushed the Huskies in front, 18-17. Spanish Springs responded with the 8-0 run.
The Huskies were without Mike Heydon, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. Heydon averages 11.3 points and 7.3 rebounds a night but is believed to have dislocated his knee cap in Friday’s win over North Valleys and coach Matt Ochs said he ‘might be done for the rest of the year.’
“That’s a tough loss,” Ochs said. “I still think we did a pretty job of moving past it. We really pushed them, in my opinion, to the edge there. Then Marcus got hot.”
Spanish Springs now prepares for another important game on Friday at McQueen. The Cougars own a one-game lead over the third-place Lancers and bested them 70-56 at home two weeks ago.
A win would guarantee the Cougars no worse than second place and the right to host a quarterfinal matchup.
“We’re one through three right now if you want to talk about seeding. We don’t have anything secured,” Penney said. “Our kids know that and we need a championship effort on the road on Friday.”
Reed is Hug’s first victim
The bad news for the Raiders? With Tuesday night’s 75-64 loss at Hug, they were the first DI North team to fall to the Hawks this season.
The good news for the Raiders? They still control their playoff destiny.
With the loss, Reed (6-14, 3-9) remained tied with North Valleys for the High Desert League’s fourth and final playoff spot. If the Raiders get past the Panthers on Friday night at home, they will likely earn the No. 4 spot outright. Reed currently holds the tiebreaker over the Panthers should they also also finish with four wins, including a win over Hug in the regular season finale.
Zonathan Williams was a problem all night for the Raiders as he went for 26 points. He was one of four Hawks to finish in double figures: Malik Youmes (11 points), Brendan Garner (11 points) and Julio Sanchez (10 points).
Jeremy Ramos led all scorers for Reed, finishing with 27. Lincoln Turner chipped in 15.
What may as well amount to a playoff game, Reed and North Valleys tip at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Early three-point shooting pushes Sparks past Fallon
By Mike Bradley, reporting intern
Fighting for one of the DI-A North’s final playoff spots, Sparks picked up an important 54-41 home win over Fallon on Tuesday night.
The Railroaders improved to 6-13, 5-7 in the DI-A North, but more importantly, opened up a one-game lead over Spring Creek for the sixth and final playoff spot. Sparks also pulled within a half game of the Greenwave (9-13, 6-7), which sits in fifth place.
Sparks came out on an 11-0 run to start the game, hitting three triples in a row by Ricky Guadron, Donny Lopez, and John Anguiano, in that order. Sparks led 16-4 after the first quarter. The Greenwave settled down in the second quarter, ending the half down 27-18.
“(Fallon) was getting the ball in the high post pretty easily,” Sparks coach Dan Schreiber said. “We made some adjustments with our guard play in the second half. I thought we were we showing great aggression throughout the game.”
Fallon came out of the half and got within five midway through the third quarter, but the Railroaders made two late three pointers to give them a 12-10 edge in the quarter and a 39-28 edge going to the fourth.
It was more of the same in the final quarter as Fallon fell behind and had to become aggressive on both sides of the ball, leading to turnovers.
Guadron finished with a game high 15 points, nine of which came from behind the arc.
The Railroaders will attempt to continue their playoff push on Saturday afternoon at South Tahoe. The Vikings sit in third place in the DI-A North at 10-11, 8-4 and have already topped Sparks, at Sparks, 77-63 on Jan. 20.