But there was a light at the end of the tunnel as the Railroaders avoided falling into a crowded race for the final playoff spot out of the Mount Rose League by storming from behind to snatch a 59-52 decision away from Truckee Saturday afternoon.
“Isn’t it unbelievable? You just never know. It‘s amazing,” Sparks boys basketball coach Mike Jones said. “Yesterday we lead for three quarters and give it away and today we trail for three quarters and we get one.
“There was no energy today though. We were stale. I think with last night’s game and all the emotions that came with it, we weren’t ready to play and it showed. We’ve got to start picking it up. It’s the time of the year where we’re supposed to be playing well and now we’re playing scared.”
It wasn’t looking good for the SHS crew with the hosts trailing by 13 points going into the fourth quarter.
Then the Maroon and Gold tried to copy what South Tahoe did to the Railroaders the night before. Martin Jordan started and ended a string of 14 unanswered points during the first four minutes of the fourth quarter as Sparks stole a 47-46 lead, its first lead since it was 6-4 in favor of the home team.
The Wolverines led as late as the 2:09 mark of the fourth quarter, 50-49. But that was the last lead for the visitors.
Sparks junior Erik Garcia’s bucket put his team ahead for good with 1:53 to play. A minute later, Truckee guard Tony Rodriguez was called for a charge while driving to the hoop. It was an unpopular call for the team in red and it led to a technical on the visiting bench. It also changed the feel of the game.
Jordan knocked down both technical free throws, giving Sparks a three-point lead, 53-50.
The Railroaders took care of business at the charity stripe as Garcia was a perfect 4-for-4 at the line to help seal the victory. Garcia finished with 12 points, while Jordan led the team with 16, including nine in the fourth quarter.
It took just over a minute for the Railroaders to score their first basket of the game and match Friday night’s fourth-quarter scoring output when the Vikings outscored Sparks 13-2 over the eight-minute span to complete their own comeback bid.
The first quarter was a see-saw battle. Neither team led by more than three points and the score was deadlocked at 9-9 after the first eight minutes of play.
That all changed in the second quarter.
Dillon Sheedy of Truckee helped the Wolverines erase Sparks’ 14-12 lead and take their own long-lived lead by scoring eight straight points of his own. Sheedy had 11 of his game-high 19 points in the second quarter, single-handedly outscoring the hosts 11-7 in the second period.
The California school went into the intermission enjoying a 28-16 advantage.a
Truckee bridged the second and third quarters with a 9-0 run by scoring the first four points of the second half to double Sparks’ score, 32-16. The 16-point gap was the largest margin of the game.
The Railroaders made sure that was their biggest deficit of the game by going on a brief 6-0 run, capped by a Garcia bank shot. The rally cut the deficit to single digits, 34-25, with 3:32 to play in the third.
Sparks was within single digits two more times in the third quarter at 40-31 and 42-33. However, the Wolverines closed out the period with four points in the last 21 seconds to claim a 46-33 edge heading into the final eight minutes of action.
Sparks (12-6, 6-2 in league) closes out the regular season at North Tahoe and Whittell Tuesday and Thursday respectively.