Cougars rout Raiders
The Cougars can almost taste it.
After handling Reed 70-50 at home on Tuesday night, Spanish Springs shrunk its magic number to three (with five games left) to win just the second league title in program history.
In stereotypical coaching fashion, Kyle Penney does not want to talk about it.
“I try not to think about the spot (we’re in), more so think about the present, the game in front of us,” Spanish Springs’ coach conceded.
The Cougs improved to 16-4, 11-0 in the 4A North and can wrap up the High Desert League title with consecutive wins at McQueen (Friday), at North Valleys (next Tuesday) and at home against Hug (next Friday).
Reed dropped to 6-13, 5-6 and remained in third place after hanging around early on Tuesday night. The Raiders trailed just 21-16 midway through the second half before apparently becoming unglued.
Countless turnovers in the backcourt led to easy buckets in transition for the Cougs. Spanish Springs closed the half on an emphatic 18-4 barrage and took a suddenly controlling 39-20 lead to the locker room.
“I felt like we were right there, then we had a little segment of time where we kind of lost some integrity and didn’t even have the honor to run down the floor and finish off plays,” first-year Reed coach Joe Genung said.
The flurry to end the first half ultimately decided the game.
Spanish Springs’ lead grew no larger than 23 and shrunk no smaller than 17 most of the second half, until it momentarily ballooned to 26 with both teams emptying their benches.
“All of our guys deserve minutes,” Penney said. “They commit to the things we do, even the guys that don’t get a lot of minutes … I’m absolutely proud of that.”
Marcus Loadholt led all scorers with 18 points in the win. Josh Prizina (15 points) and Jalen Townsell (11 points) also reached double figures.
For Reed, Matt Williams led the way with 15 points. Jeremy Ramos added 11.
The Raiders will try to get back in the win column on Friday night at North Valleys (9-12, 2-9). It will be the first of the final five games of the season. Reed beat North Valleys, 85-65, at home two weeks ago.
“We’re battling,” Genung said. “It’s far from decided so we still have to continue to race and finish plays, finish transition, finish is an operative word at this point. We have some teams that want our spot.”
The Cougars will also go on the road Friday night and play a team that has revenge on its mind. Spanish Springs beat McQueen, 71-54, at home two weeks ago.
4A North scoreboard
Spanish Springs 70, Reed 50
Carson 45, Douglas 41
North Valleys 70, Hug 60
Galena 63, Damonte Ranch 53
Reno 63, McQueen 54
Bishop Manogue 88, Wooster 41
Reed escapes at Spanish Springs
It felt like it was over midway through the fourth quarter.
Tori Baer connected on a layup inside of four minutes remaining to give the Reed a commanding 52-43 lead at Spanish Springs on Tuesday night. Baer’s bucket created the widest separation of the night for either team.
It was not over.
The Cougars went on a 10-0 to grab their first lead of the fourth quarter, 53-52, with just 35 seconds left on a Kierra Johnson layup out of an inbounds play.
Then it really was over.
Freshman Autumn Wadsworth went 4-for-4 at free throw line in the final 28 seconds and Vanessa Hernandez converted a turnover into a bucket at the buzzer to give the Raiders a significant 58-53 road win.
“It’s a big win. We needed it,” said Reed coach Sara Schopper-Ramirez, whose team had lost three of its previous four. “We’ve been on a down trend so we needed a game like this. I’m proud of my girls, who finished off strong.”
The outcome now makes a mess out of the race for the High Desert League No. 2. Reed (14-5, 8-3), Spanish Springs (14-7, 8-3) and McQueen are all tied for the spot.
The loss was the Cougs’ second straight game, both at home, after falling 61-40 to Reno on Friday.
“All good teams make runs,” Schopper-Ramirez said of the Cougs’ late 10-0 burst. “It’s going to go back and forth and we’ve learned that. We have to sustain the run and keep our composure. We haven’t been doing that very well the last couple games … We could’ve went into panic zone when went down by one.”
The close finish was symbolic of the first three quarters of play. The Raiders held a narrow 26-25 lead at the half and another one-point lead, 39-38, going to the fourth.
Reed opened the final quarter on an 11-3 run, setting the stage for the Cougs’ late comeback attempt.
Spanish Springs has a short turnaround before another huge game, Friday, at McQueen. The Cougs pulled away from the Lancers earlier this month for a 50-33 home win.
Also on Friday, Reed travels to North Valleys.
4A North scoreboard
Reed 58, Spanish Springs 53
Carson 47, Douglas 32
North Valleys 59, Hug 21
Galena 53, Damonte Ranch 40
Reno 56, McQueen 28
Bishop Manogue 89, Wooster 10