The Spanish Springs boys kick off the action Tuesday night at Sierra League champion Bishop Manogue after the Cougars took the High Desert League’s fourth seed. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Spanish Springs racked up an 11-14 overall record and 8-8 mark in HDL play when many expected it to challenge for a league title. However, the Cougs have struggled to live up to those expectations this year.
Mistakes have cost the local school dearly.
“We’ve improved a lot, there’s no doubt about it,” SSHS boys basketball coach Kyle Penney said. “We go in spurts with our turnovers. We’ve shown improvement, but we show we still turn it over. I think going into this game our kids know what to expect and know what’s coming. We’re going to have to be real consistent because Manogue is a team that doesn’t get rattled. For us, we go in spurts so we need to make sure we have consistency and focus the whole game.”
With the change in scheduling this season, each HDL and SL team has already played each other, so there will be no surprises in the postseason. One thing is for certain. Spanish Springs doesn’t want a repeat of the teams’ early meeting when the Miners romped to a 76-38 victory on their home floor.
A lot has changed since Spanish Springs’ fourth game of the season when it lost to Manogue. The Cougars also didn’t have their leading scorer Brandon Delong for that game. Delong averages 16 points per game. But the junior can score in bunches. Delong has scored at least 20 points 10 times this winter, including a season-high performance 41 points against Douglas.
Spanish Springs’ other player in double figures scoring is senior Ryan Swanson, who pours in just under 11 points a game. After that duo, the Cougars don’t have many scoring options. Tremor Shetrawski is a good complement, scoring nearly seven points per contest.
Based on the first game between Manogue and Spanish Springs, the Cougars will need to handle the pressure better and find a way to slow down Ethan Dillard, who torched them for 31 points and knocked down seven 3-pointers.
“We know Manogue is very good. Their offense is based off their defensive pressure, so we need to make sure we take care of the ball,” Penney said. “We need to recognize when doubles and traps are coming and back out of it.”
Dillard leads the team with about 21 points a game, while Niles Lujan and Brennan Hogan add about 15 and 14 points a night respectively.
•The girls Northern 4A Regional tournament begins a day later on Wednesday. Two local teams will be participating.
The Reed girls will try to keep their record unblemished when they host Damonte Ranch in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The Raiders are the odds-on favorite to win the regional title and earn the North’s only berth to the state tournament.
Reed has trailed at halftime only once this season and no Northern Nevada foe has lost by less than 23 points.
That’s what worries Reed girls basketball coach Sara Schopper a little. Since everyone is expecting the Raiders to win three straight games this week, so a letdown would be huge. The Blue and Gold cannot afford a loss at this point in the season because it would mean the end of the season.
“It’s do or die so every game has pressure on it to make it to the next spot,” Schopper said. “In the playoffs, anything is possible. Teams are going to get after it every game.”
The Lady Raiders did play the Mustangs two weeks ago and won at DRHS, 82-29, so one would expect a similar outcome. Schopper said Damonte was missing a big girl for that game, but it makes it easier to prepare for this game having just played Mustangs.
“Our focus is good and I don’t think much will change in two weeks,” Schopper said.
The only weaknesses Reed has shown this year is at the foul line at times and defensive rebounding when post Nyasha LeSure isn’t on the floor.
However, Reed is still by far the highest scoring girls team in the North, averaging about 70 points per game and outscoring northern Nevada opponents by around 40 points each time it takes the court.
•Like the boys, the Cougar girls racked up an 8-8 league mark and earned the No. 4 seed, so a trip to the Sierra League champs is on the travel itinerary.
Spanish Springs will have to go to Galena, a team it lost to at home, 51-36.
The Grizzlies went 13-3 in league play, so SSHS girls basketball coach Christine Eckles knows it will take a near-perfect effort to pull off the upset.
“Obviously we know they’re a very good team and we know what they like to do,” Eckles said. “We’ve got to be able to put together a good four quarters of defense and try to contain (Emily) Burns and hope no one else has a great night against us. We’ve got to play a good four quarters of basketball, and I don’t think we’ve done that yet this year.”
While the Grizzlies are the class of the Sierra League, their style of play could potentially help Spanish Springs. Galena prefers to be efficient with possessions rather than run up the floor and try to score as quickly as possible.
Because of that, the Grizz does not score many points, averaging under 50 a game. If the Cougars can take care of the basketball and have an equal amount of quality possessions as Galena, there is a chance for some late-game excitement.
“They’re so good defensively that if we needed to score 60 to win, that would be a difficult accomplishment,” Eckles said. “Traditionally they don’t score a lot of points, so we’re hoping to keep it a close game. If we can keep it in the high 40’s, on paper that would look good for us.”
Spanish Springs will need to find a way to slow down Burns and Taylor Schaller, who each score about 15 points a game. Burns is a post player most teams don’t want to face, while Schaller gives Galena a threat from the outside.
Eckles also believes Galena will key on Spanish Springs sophomore forward Lyndsey Anderson, who leads the Purple and White in scoring and rebounds at 15 points and 10 boards a game. Because Eckles believes Galena coach Karen Friel will game plan for Anderson, she said other Cougars like Riley Holladay (10 points and 5 assists per game) and Sam Owens need to step up and hit some shots.
•Of the four local squads in the basketball postseason, the Sparks boys are the only team that hasn’t faced their regional opponent.
By going 8-2 in Mount Rose League action, the Railroaders earned the top seed and the chance to host a regional game Friday night at 7:30 p.m. against Elko, the Ruby Mountain League runner-up.
The Indians also went 8-2 in league with their only losses coming to first-place Lowry.
While Sparks did not face Elko this season, the Indians did participate in the Rail City Classic, so Sparks boys basketball coach Mike Jones did get to see them a little in-person. He also has game film and easily noticed how strong Elko is on defense. Jones also believes that his team’s offense is better than Elko’s so it will be interesting to see which side emerges victorious.
“It’s going to be who can oppose their will on the other team,” Jones said.
Jones said the Indians’ offense goes through two players. Rashaun Marin leads Elko in scoring at over 17 points per game. He’s more of a dribble-drive kind of guard and gets to the foul line a lot. Austin Brown is a perimeter guard who likes to shoot the three. He averages 15 points a game.
Sparks will spend this week’s practice time focusing on that twosome.
“If we can get our kids to recognize those guys and have good help-side defense, we’ll be alright,” Jones said.
Jones hopes playing at the Brickhouse will provide some home-court advantage. At the very least, Elko will have to take a five-hour bus ride to the Rail City. The Indians used to make the trip to the Reno-Sparks area a handful of times a season, but with the realignment, Elko’s travel time has been cut drastically.
Another difference this year is the Railroaders won’t be able to defend their regional crown from last year. Six teams qualified for this year’s regional tournament. The winners of the three games advance to the state championship tournament. The losers are done for the season.
Some good news for Sparks is that post player Darius Devine will be back. Devine missed time due to an injured knee but he started getting his legs back last week at North Tahoe and Whittell.