Reno guard Jakob Rolling dropped in a layup with 3:30 to go in the game, knotting the conference clash at 49-49. That’s as good as it got for the hosts. Spanish Springs’ Kenny Meyer made a driving layup and then connected on 1 of 2 free throws. Next, the Cougars got a TJ McCauley runner to fall through the twine, pushing their lead to 54-49 with 1:13 left in the game.
Reno’s Kyle Mahaffey caught the Cougars sleeping. He streaked down the court and made a layup just seconds after McCauley’s bucket, trimming the SSHS lead to 54-51. Reno got a defensive stop on the Cougars’ next possession, but Spanish Springs guard Connor Naisbitt picked off a Huskies pass and bolted down court before getting fouled. He drained two free throws with 7.8 ticks to go, accounting for the final 56-51 margin.
Spanish Springs (5-2, 3-1) was bigger, but got hurt by giving Reno easy shots in the lane and multiple chances after a first missed shot. Those Cougar deficiencies helped Reno (1-6, 1-2) hang around throughout the contest.
“You win on the road in a place you haven’t won a lot in the past, we’ll take that win anytime,” Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. “But we weren’t real fundamentally sound in either of those categories. As a team, we had some guys who did a decent job in terms of their (defensive) responsibilities, but rebounding really hurt us. They missed shots and we’d just give up two or three shots. That’s never going to be good for you.
“We finished the game, but we were pretty sloppy. Credit that to Reno. We only had 12 turnovers but it felt like more than that. They forced us into bad shot selection, put us against the wall. Our kids finished it out the right way. We got some rebounds and were able to get it done.”
The Cougars got off to a solid start. Trailing 8-5 midway through the first quarter, the guests got it going. They ripped off 10 straight points and wound up taking a 17-9 lead by the first quarter’s conclusion.
Unfortunately for fans of the Purple and Silver, it could not keep the momentum. Reno outscored Spanish Springs 21-9 in the second period and had taken a 30-29 advantage at the intermission.
The two teams traded buckets in the third period and faced a 42-42 deadlock, heading into the final period. A putback by Rolling forged Reno ahead, 44-43, a minute into the fourth quarter but it was the last Huskies’ lead of the night.
Spanish Springs answered by scoring 11 of the next 16 points to put the game away in crunchtime.
McCauley finished with 17 points to lead all scorers. He also pulled down 12 rebounds and blocked five shots. Still, he got help from his SSHS teammates. Meyer added 16 points and Austin Damoth chipped in 15. The offensive balance from that trio was much needed as the rest of the Cougars’ roster managed only eight points.
“Yeah that was huge and especially from those three guys,” Penney said. “That’s great to see. If we’re going to be really good, that’s going to need to happen on a daily basis. We got a good job from some of our bench guys too, but we’ve got to be able to execute on offense a little longer to get Kenny more good looks, instead of just taking that first look.”
Spanish Springs gets a break from league play this weekend. It will host Central Catholic of Merced Friday at 7 p.m. and Nevada Union, Calif. at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.