Spanish Springs led 26-9 after the first quarter and never looked back on Friday night, cruising to a 78-46 win at Reed in the final regular season contest of the year.
The Cougars finished the regular season 16-8, 12-4 in the DI North and will take the High Desert League No. 2 seed to the postseason thanks in part in McQueen’s 69-60 home loss to Reno on Friday night.
With a McQueen win, Spanish Springs would’ve had to open the playoffs on the road as the No. 3 seed. However, coach Kyle Penney said he wasn’t scoreboard watching.
“I don’t know if it matters,” Penney said. “A home playoff game is obviously the key. For everybody, you have to have your A game now. If you don’t, the season’s over. The Sierra League is tough all the way around.”
The Raiders (7-17, 4-12) finished in a tie for fourth place with North Valleys but will get the nod for the final playoff spot via tiebreaker points.
Reed coach Zach Sanford was obviously displeased with the showing but said there was still parts to take from the loss into the postseason.
“There are still positives in everything. We did compete better in the second half,” Sanford said. “You know what? We’ll watch film, look at it, go back to the drawing board. But we’re in the playoffs. Now it’s one and done.”
Spanish Springs sophomore Jalen Townsell scored all of his game-high 18 points in the first that saw the Cougs lead 47-22.
Penney said the first half was some of the best basketball his team has played this year, a refreshing sight considering the timing.
“We’re going to build off it,” Penney said. “(Everybody) is 0-0. We gotta go.”
The lead continued to grow in the third quarter, getting as big as 65-29 following a Court Diesner triple from the corner, before both coaches cleared their bench for the final 11 minutes with the outcome determined.
Marcus Loadholt (12 points) and Ryan Anderson (10 points) also reached double figures as 10 different Cougs got in the box score.
Lincoln Turner led the Raiders with 15 points, edging out Jeremy Ramos’ 14.
Reed will open the playoffs on Wednesday night at Carson in the DI North quarterfinals.
The Senators, who won the Sierra League with a perfect 16-0 DI North record, beat the Raiders 52-34 in Carson on Dec. 29.
“We’re going to have to hit our shots. We’re going to have to try to eliminate their size inside,” Sanford said. “And just come out swinging. We have nothing to lose. We’re going to try to shock the world.”
Spanish Springs will host Galena, the defending DI North champ, also on Wednesday night in the semifinals.
The Grizzlies (16-10, 10-6) are the Sierra League No. 3. They fell at home to Spanish Springs, 58-52, on Jan. 8 in the two team’s only previous meeting this season.
It is the third-straight year Spanish Springs and Galena will play each other in the playoffs. Two years ago, Spanish Springs hit 13-of-16 shots from deep to secure the program’s first trip to the regional title game. Last year, the Grizzlies eliminated the Cougs in the semifinals.
“It’s going to be a great game at home in a great environment, we’re looking forward to it,” Penney said. “That game in January (first meeting) means nothing. It’s a bonus to them because it’s motivation.”
Sparks plows Fernley in late playoff push
By Mike Bradley, reporting intern
Sparks just had a Senior Night to remember.
The Railroaders (7-15, 6-9) entered Friday’s home contest with fourth-place Fernley (12-10, 8-7) tied with Spring Creek for the DI-A North’s sixth and final playoff spot. They proceeded to put together their best game of the season, rolling the Vaqueros, 72-43.
“It was Senior Night and everyone was amped,” Sparks coach Dan Schreiber said. “It was easy to get the guys fired up in pregame because everyone was excited to play.”
The Railroaders came out with full court pressure in the first quarter, only allowing two points in the first eight minutes. Sparks got the crowd into the game with the early three point makes. The Railroaders led 15-2 after the first quarter.
Sparks continued the defensive intensity in the second quarter and Fernley struggled to keep the pace but managed to score 12 points in the quarter. Fernley almost went into the second half down 15 until Sparks’ guard Ricky Guadron buried a three at the buzzer to put the team up 32-14.
Sparks coasted to victory in the fourth quarter.
Schreiber gave all the seniors a chance to play on their home court one last time in the quarter.
Guadron led all scorers with 19
“I’m going to miss the unpredictability of these guys.” Schreiber said. “They’ve done everything us coaches have asked of them these four years and that’s really all you can wish for.”
Sparks will wrap up the regular season on Saturday afternoon at Lowry (17-8, 13-2).
The Railroaders will likely need to win that game to get into the postseason because Spring Creek upset South Tahoe on Friday night to leave Sparks and Spring Creek in a tie for sixth.
The Spartans play Dayton (7-17, 4-11) on Saturday.