So after taking a step forward toward a potential playoff appearance against North Valleys, the Cougars plummeted back to earth Friday night after a 45-43 home loss to Elko.
"We were not ready to play. I walked into the coaches' offense and I told my assistant coaches 'they're not focused,'" Penney said of halftime. "We had guys giggling and laughing. Again it goes back to leadership responsibilities. It goes back to we think we're good, but are we? I don't know how we can think we're good because we're not Reno and we're not Manogue by any means.
"I just hope the players really struggle with this one because they really didn't show up to get it done."
Spanish Springs took its first lead of the game at the end of the third quarter, 31-30, thanks to a 3-pointer in the corner by Thomas Perkins. After scoring 30 points against the Panthers Tuesday, Perkins followed up that career performance with five points.
The 31-30 lead also happened to be the only one the Cougars enjoyed in the High Desert League clash. Like the first half, Spanish Springs' offense went on a long drought and Elko capitalized, scoring the first nine points of the fourth quarter for a 39-31 lead.
"I think it was a lot of our inabilities on offense," Penney said. "We couldn't make an easy shot on offense and we couldn't make a pass. Credit their defense but before I credit their defense first, go back and look at the game we played and that's what our players do."
Spanish Springs didn't score until five and a half minutes ticked off the fourth-quarter clock. The hosts still managed to get it close at the end though.
Kyle Raymond's fifth trey of the game made it 39-35 with two minutes to play. Thomas Giglio made it a three-point game with 18 and 9 seconds remaining, but that was as close as the Cougars got until the final bucket at the buzzer.
In each of the first two quarters, Spanish Springs did not score until the midway points, playing the equivalent of one whole quarter in the half. That would explain its 25-16 deficit at the break. It was only that close because of an 8-0 run that closed a 22-8 gap to a 22-16 gap.
A 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer by Elko's Anthony Painter kept the Indians from going scoreless in the last 5:18 of the half.
The third period was the only quarter in which the Purple and Teal started out comparably strong.
The Cougars outscored the visitors 15-5 in an eight-minute span that included a string of seven straight points to take the lead into the final eight minutes of play.
Raymond was the only Cougar in double figures. He had a game-high 15 points. As a team, Spanish Springs was only 15-of-40 from the field.
Elko was paced by Ra Shaun Marin and Austin Brown's 11 points, while Painter contributed 10.
Spanish Springs (10-13, 4-6 HDL) has a week off until it heads to McQueen Friday night for a 7 p.m. tip-off.