One glaring problem that will stick out after looking closer is the play of the team after halftime, where they have performed dismally. The Railroaders came out sluggish in the second half yet again Saturday afternoon, scoring five points in each of the third and fourth quarters en route to dropping their Mount Rose League match to Truckee 55-24.
With the first-place Wolverines in town, the task ahead of the Maroon and Gold was daunting, but they looked up to it for the first 16 minutes.
Down by four at the end of one quarter and still in the game with a 10-point deficit at the intermission, it all unraveled for Sparks with the start of the second half.
Opening the third with the score 24-14, Truckee pushed its lead to 33-19 with 3:37 on the clock. From there the Railroaders watched as the visitors scored 11 unanswered to make the deficit 44-19 at the end of the third, putting the game away.
“I can’t explain it,” Sparks coach Tony Shaw said. “That’s been an all year thing. I don’t know what the issue is. I really, honestly have no explanation. For a half we were okay and then we lose our mental focus for some reason. They go on a spurt and we’re just kind of going ‘Oh, really, we started again?’ and that’s when we decide to try to play hard. By then though we’ve dug ourselves such a huge hole and we can’t come out of it.”
With the game all but over, Truckee put the icing on the victory with a 9-2 run in the fourth to end the game, leading to the final 55-24 score.
To begin the game, the Maroon and Gold stuck with Truckee.
After Truckee scored the first six points of the game, Sparks got in the score column on a 3-pointer from guard Kystal Parker. A layup from guard Leti Perez cut the Wolverines lead to a point at 6-5 with 3:12 left in the first. Truckee would extend its lead to four with the scoreboard reading 10-6 at the end of the quarter.
The Wolverines’ advantage stayed at four points with 2:44 left in the second quarter and the scoreboard reading 16-12, but an 8-2 burst to end the first half sent the teams to the locker rooms with Sparks down 24-14.
That is when the game fell apart for the Railroaders. Nine turnovers in the third quarter, which surpassed the team’s total (8) from the first half, followed by six in the final quarter, aided the Truckee victory. Sending the Wolverines to the charity stripe 10 times, which led to an extra 13 points for Truckee, didn’t help the cause either.
“At the start of the third we were down 10, and it was a lazy 10,” Shaw said. “It wasn’t like they went on a run out of nowhere. They chipped away at us. For some reason, we shut it down from there. Obviously we have to get mentally tougher but it also comes down to us not having a ball handler. We don’t have a true point guard. That helps a whole lot when you have at least one of those and we don’t.”
Sparks did not have any players reach double figures, with Parker leading the team with eight points. Converting only seven buckets from the field, the Railroaders shot 17.9 percent (7-of-39) for the game.
Truckee (14-5, 8-0) was led by junior guard Sindis English, who had a game-high 14 points. Senior forward Aleigh Krug chipped in with 10 points of her own. The Wolverines hit 20-of-50 (40 percent) from the field.
Sparks (3-13, 1-7) host North Tahoe on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m.