Sparks’ long season continued with the squad falling to 1-15 overall, 1-10 in Div. I-A North meetings. Fernley improved to 6-15, 2-10 in league contests – both of its league wins are against Sparks.
Fernley beat Sparks by 16 in its home gym on Jan. 4.
“Their willingness to try hard is not a question,” Sparks coach Frank Avilla said of his young and inexperienced group. “It’s there. They are playing hard for their school. They’re playing hard for their pride. It’s the lack of court awareness and court experience and we’re going to take care of that.”
Roxy Guadron (eight points) snuck Sparks within six points, 31-25, midway through the third quarter. Fernley responded with a 9-0 run that lasted until the 4:27 mark in the fourth quarter to create an insurmountable 15-point difference.
The Vaqueros outscored Sparks 15-10 in the final period, nine of those points coming at the charity stripe. Unable to grab defensive rebounds, Sparks sent Fernley to the free-throw line 18 times in the fourth quarter. Fernley connected on half those attempts and hit just 14 of a monstrous 33 freebies in the game.
Sparks made four of its six freebies Saturday.
“I also see that as, they know they are in it and all of a sudden, tightness started happening and that’s lack of boxing out I’m afraid,” Avilla said.
Lynsee Ferretto, who Avilla said “single-handedly beat” his squad, finished with 18 points and was the only Vaquero to finish in double figures.
Sparks’ Gabby Morgan (10 points) was the only Railroader to break the 10-point barrier.
Fernley took an 8-6 lead into the second quarter before outscoring the hosts 14-5 before halftime.
Avilla said the nine-point differential was not the result of a change in gameplan, but rather because of an intentional change in personnel.
“I am planning on getting a lot of girls in. Look, we’re not shooting for a title or anything so it’s not like I’m giving up the season, but I’m giving a lot of girls time,” Avilla said. “Number one, I have a couple seniors that need to get time in and the younger girls, I need to get them on the court.”
Trailing 20-11 at the start of the second half, Sparks quickened the pace and outscored Fernley 14-9 in the third period before the Vaqueros’ fourth quarter free-throw barrage.
Sparks will look to pick up its second win of the season Friday at Elko before finishing the road trip at Spring Creek on Saturday.
“It’s not that there is a lack of hustle, or lack of willingness to try, it’s the learning curve,” Avilla said. “But I’ve seen a great improvement on the learning curve … and they’re starting to see that.”