"Any win on the road in league is good," Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. "North Valleys is a good team, so it's a great win. We'll take it."
North Valleys got a layup from Jordin McGuigan at the 3:55 mark of the second period to get within two, 24-22. Spanish Springs responded with an 8-2 run to close out the first half and the guests had a 32-24 advantage at the intermission.
Spanish Springs then put together a modest 9-5 spurt through the first 3:23 of the third period. The mini run was wrapped up when senior guard Hunter Fralick made a back-door cut, caught a pass and dropped in a layup before being fouled. He connected on the ensuing free throw to complete the 3-point play and put his Cougars on top 41-29 at the 4:37 mark of the third period.
The two strings of scores that sandwiched halftime saw Spanish Springs outscore North Valleys, 17-7 in a span of 6:17. That proved pivotal in the 10-point SSHS win.
"We executed and we were able to get some ball reversals," Penney said. "We were able to get some easy looks when we did that. When you can do that, it just has a way of killing your opponent's confidence and momentum."
Spanish Springs still led by 12, 52-40, after a short baseline jumper by Alex Abbie with 3:42 remaining in the conference clash. North Valleys trimmed the lead to 54-47 after a short bank shot by Mario Montemayor. The Panthers had a chance to trim the Cougars' lead to five, on the next possession, but they were called for traveling on a breakaway layup.
"We'd have some spurts and then we'd hurt ourselves with silly mistakes," North Valleys coach Richard Peraldo said. "We got it to 54-47 and then we had the traveling call. That was indicative of our night."
North Valleys (7-2, 0-2) was stymied from there. Cougars sharpshooting guard Kenny Meyer proceeded to knock down six straight free throws. The last came with 20.8 seconds remaining in the conference clash as Spanish Springs forged ahead 60-47 and held on for the double-digit triumph.
North Valleys got off to a solid start. The Panthers went on top 12-8 six minutes into the game. From there, Spanish Springs ripped off a 9-2 run to close out the initial period. The Cougars led 17-14 after the first eight minutes and did not trail again.
North Valleys swingman Jalil Walker poured in a team-high 20 points, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter. He was the lone Panthers player in double figures in scoring.
"Jalil is tough to guard," Penney said. "I think we had him frustrated for a while, but he also made some tough shots too. We fouled a little too much. Most of that was when we lost focus defensively and then you're a step slow in reacting."
Meyer led all scorers, throwing in 26 for the Cougars. Jake Longero chipped in 15.
The Cougars (5-4, 2-1) do not play again until Dec. 26 when they compete in the MaxPreps Classic in San Diego.