The contest was tight until the midway point of the third period, but Reno gradually pulled away over the next nine minutes and went on to pull out a 56-41 playoff triumph at Carson High School.
In an early season league matchup in December, Reno used a 17-2 run over six minutes to key a 58-41 home victory. Then in late January, Reno used a 14-2 burst to break open a close contest at SSHS, propelling it to a 57-39 win.
"For whatever reason, in all of our games against Reno, we've had a stretch that really hurts us," said Spanish Springs coach Christine Eckles, who coached her final game for the Cougars after announcing her retirement three weeks ago. "Ultimately, you just have to tip your hat to Reno. That's a very good girls basketball team. I thought our girls battled tonight and played really hard for 32 minutes, but just came up on the short end against a really talented Reno club."
On Friday night, on a neutral court at Carson, Reno put together another key outburst that doomed a Spanish Springs upset bid. Reno took a 25-17 lead into the locker room at the break, but watched Spanish Springs score eight of the first 12 points to open the third period. Cougars point guard Hannah Woytek capped the spurt when she pulled down a rebound on the run and went coast-to-coast, dropping in a layup in traffic. That bucket got Spanish Springs within four, 29-25, at the 4:21 mark of the third quarter.
Reno coach Shane Foster called a timeout and his Huskies responded. Reno closed out the third quarter with an 11-4 run to forge ahead 40-29, heading into the final eight minutes. The HDL champs didn't let up. They outscored Spanish Springs 15-6 through the first four and a half minutes of the fourth quarter to go on top 55-35, their largest lead of the night.
"We did a good job in that stretch at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth," Foster said. "Defensively, we did a good job contesting shots and making them shoot off the dribble."
Spanish Springs scored six of the final seven points in the game, but Reno's tell-tale span that bridged the third and fourth quarters proved too much for Spanish Springs to overcome.
"I just could not have asked for anything more from my girls," Eckles said. "They left it all on the floor. Reno is talented. Their guards can handle it and shoot it. Their posts are huge. At no point did anything come easy for us, but we still competed the whole way with great energy and passion. We have every reason to hold our heads high."
The loss eliminated the Cougars from the regional tournament and ended the most successful Spanish Springs season in school history. The SSHS crew finished its season at 22-7.
The defeat also brought to a close the prep career of two of the most celebrated Cougars in program history -- Lyndsey Anderson and Riley Holladay, both four-year varsity players. Anderson finishes as the all-time leader in scoring, rebounding and blocks for Spanish Springs while Holladay finishes as the school's all-time leader in assists and fourth-leading scorer.
Holladay and Anderson finished with 14 and nine points respectively to lead the SSHS offensive arsenal Friday.
"Lyndsey and Riley have given so much to our program," Eckles said. "They have set an example of how hard to work and how to do things right on and off the floor. I would have loved to have seen them, and our whole team, go out with a win, but in the end, only one team in the state really gets to do that."
There wasn't much offensive flow to the game in the initial quarter. The teams had combined for seven points through the first six-plus minutes of play. Reno led 8-4 at the end of the first quarter. The Huskies pushed their lead to 15-4 after a Gigi Hascheff 3-pointer at the 6:38 mark of the second quarter.
However, Spanish Springs did not roll over and play dead. The Cougars ripped off a modest 7-0 run and got back to within four, 15-11, after a Laneesha Terrance layup with four minutes left before halftime.
Reno outscored Spanish Springs 10-6 into the intermission, accounting for the 25-17 halftime margin.
"It was a little slow offensively early, for both teams," Foster said. "but we just kept preaching about keep working on defense and the offense will take care of itself."
Hascheff, who has signed to play her collegiate basketball at Sacramento State, paced the Reno offense with 14 points. Shalen Shaw added 13 points and Morgan McGwire 10 to the winning cause.
Reno, which has lost only once since returning from Christmas break, will get a chance to avenge that lone blemish when it meets Sierra League champion Bishop Manogue in northern Nevada's large-school girls hoop final, scheduled for today at 4 p.m. at Carson.