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Hoopsters prepared for playoff openers
by Aaron Retherford
Feb 11, 2008 | 1051 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<B>Tribune/Chris Ellis</b>Sparks senior Albert Claypool goes up for a layup during Monday's practice in preparation for the Railroaders' playoff opener against Lowry Thursday at Elko High School.
Tribune/Chris EllisSparks senior Albert Claypool goes up for a layup during Monday's practice in preparation for the Railroaders' playoff opener against Lowry Thursday at Elko High School.
For the first time ever, five Rail City basketball squads are headed to the postseason.

One year after the Reed girls and boys basketball teams were the only local schools to reach the playoffs, both Spanish Springs teams and the Sparks boys will be joining the Raiders this week.

Here is a brief look at all five first-round playoff matches involving Sparks schools.

Reed Raiders girls

By far the most intriguing first-round matchup, although it should be the least competitive, will be the Reed girls versus Hug.

Not only have the Hawks not sniffed the postseason since 2001, but also Hug coach Ed Shepherd has ties to Reed High School. Shepherd coached the Raiders and won the school’s last state championship in 1993 and a regional title in 1997, the last time the school had claimed that honor before last year.

Reed won’t be worrying about that. The Raiders are only concerned with defending their 4A Northern Regional title and heading back to the state tournament for the third straight year and the fourth time in the last five years.

However, the Blue and Gold is 1-3 in those trips to state and wants to finish the job.

Reed has not faced Hug this year, but it also has not lost to a team in Nevada either. The Raiders’ last loss was on the last day of 2007 at the West Coast Jamboree and are riding a 10-game winning streak. For the second straight season, Reed won all of its High Desert League games to earn the top seed.

Hug (9-11, 6-8 Sierra League) had a challenge just to reach the playoffs. The Hawks tied South Tahoe in the league standings but earned the tiebreaker to receive the fourth and final seed.

Reed (20-6, 12-0 HDL) will host Hug at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Spanish Springs girls

A late-season loss at Galena cost the Cougars a chance to host a first-round playoff game. Both teams finished at 8-4 in the HDL and the Grizzlies were given the No. 2 seed, while Spanish Springs (19-9, 8-4 HDL) will have to travel to Douglas Wednesday.

But luckily for the SSHS cagers, if they can get past the Tigers, they will play permanent hosts. Spanish Springs will hold all the semifinals and finals in both the girls and boys tourneys.

The tough part will be winning in Minden. The Cougars have already dropped a 49-41 decision to Douglas early in December. However, Spanish Springs was without injured starters Ari James and Danielle Beebe.

The Tigers’ only losses in league action came against Reno, but there is an obvious disparity between the Huskies and the rest of the league. Reno held Douglas to 30, 29 and 34 points in the teams’ three meetings. The first matchup saw Reno win the High Sierra Winter Classic by a 73-30 score over the Tigers.

The Minden school is not known for a high-powered offense, scoring 30 or less points on four occasions, including a season-low 23 points against Galena.

The winner will face either Reed or Hug, and the winner of that semifinal automatically punches a ticket to the state tournament since two North teams receive invites this year.

Tip-off at Douglas is also scheduled for 7 p.m.

The other two first-round games are Bishop Manogue at Reno and North Valleys at Galena.

Reed boys

It’s debatable whether Reed got a better deal than cross-town rival Spanish Springs by claiming the third seed rather than the fourth. While the Raiders will avoid playing Reno, which went undefeated in the Sierra League, they will have to go all the way to Minden to face Douglas where the Tigers will have a noticeable home-court advantage.

The Raiders have beaten the Tigers this year though. During the six-game win streak to start the season, Reed held off Douglas 50-49 on the road. It was the Raiders’ third game, but the season opener for the Tigers.

Momentum is certainly on the east Sparks school’s side. Reed (17-8, 7-5 HDL) won four games in a row just to make the playoffs, while Douglas is coming off 75-39 rout at the hands of Reno.

The two teams are pretty familiar with each other. This will be the third time in the past four years they will meet in the first round of the playoffs with each team taking a game in the prior two games.

The tourney tilt is slated for a 7 p.m. start time Tuesday.

Spanish Springs boys

The Cougars went six years without making the playoffs, but that will all change today when they go to Reno for their first taste of the postseason under the direction of first-year SSHS coach Kyle Penney.

Spanish Springs lost control of its own playoff destiny when it fell to Reed a week ago. Then the Cougars became big fans of the Raiders and Manogue on the final two days of the season.

If Fallon had beaten either of those teams, the Greenwave would be challenging the Huskies and the Cougars would have been left out in the cold. Turns out Spanish Springs (13-9,6-6 HDL) had luck on its side.

The Cougars are the only team that handed Galena a league loss, but Spanish Springs will be facing the other No. 1 seed in the regional quarterfinals.

Reno (21-6) cruised to a 14-0 record in the Sierra League with all of those victories coming by at least 13 points, so the Cougars will have their hands full. They will also need to find an answer for Duke-bound Olek Czyz and point guard Austin Morgan, who are both capable of putting up 20 points a game.

Start time is 7 p.m. Damonte Ranch will be at Galena and Bishop Manogue will host Hug at the same time.

Sparks boys

When the Railroaders were sitting at 2-4 in 3A North League play, not many thought they would eventually challenge for a league title, especially after winning a total of five games last winter.

But after rattling off seven straight wins, Sparks had a chance to tie Incline atop the standings and earn a first-round bye in the regionals.

The Railroaders had to settle for the third seed after dropping their regular-season finale at Dayton. That leaves the Maroon and Gold with Lowry, the only team in the tournament that finished under .500 during the league schedule.

However, Sparks was one of the Buckaroos’ six league victims. Still, the Railroaders got the better of Lowry on two other occasions, including a 15-point win on Jan. 26.

League leaders Incline and Dayton have the easiest path to the state tournament, needing just one win to advance to state.

On the other hand, Sparks (15-11, 9-5 3A North) must win two games to make state. All 3A Northern Regional games are being held at Elko High School. The Railroaders’ first game is at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.

With a win, Sparks will get a rematch with Dayton. Even if the Railroaders lose to the Dust Devils, they can still earn an invite to state by winning the third-place game Saturday. The top three Northern teams will go to state.

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