SPRING CREEK – The Elko Indians knew they had their work cut out for them Tuesday in Spring Creek, but they might not have expected quite the scare the Spartans gave them.
Through three quarters, the game was virtually a dead heat – but the Indians locked down defensively and made plays down the stretch in a 57-46 victory.
The game began with a swapping of shots from deep, Spring Creek senior Ryan Miner starting the back-and-forth with a triple.
Elko tied the game with a three by senior Ryan Wickersham.
Freshman Sean Klekas gave the Indians a 5-3 lead with a slick in-and-out dribble and scoop shot off the bounce with his left hand.
The game was knotted up once again on a tough fall-away jumper along the right baseline by senior Thomas Ledford for the Spartans.
Elko went up 7-5 with an offensive rebound and solid put-back by senior Jose Zataray.
Junior Alex Klekas did his best James Harden impression with a Euro step around the defense and made a lefty finish for a 9-5 lead.
Senior center Jeron Yopps built a six-point Elko lead with a backdoor cut, but Ledford stemmed the tide for the Spartans with a deuce.
Yopps went back to work and scored from an inbound pass from Sean Klekas, but Miner knocked down a pair of free throws on the other end.
Elko gained a shot of life from a strong rebound and tough finish against contact by Wickersham, but Miner completed a three-point play with a free throw after making a sheer hustle play underneath Spring Creek’s basket.
After the first quarter, the Indians led 15-12.
Spring Creek pulled to within two with a free throw, but Alex Klekas sized up a triple from the left side for the Indians.
Yopps scored inside on a jump hook, followed by a rebound and put-back by senior Daniel Eary for the Spartans on the left block.
Yopps got the friendly bounce on another jump hook from the left side, giving Elko a 22-15 lead.
The Spartans nailed a pair of freebies, pulling to within three after an easy deuce by Ledford on the left side.
Another Spring Creek free throw made things interesting at 22-20.
Zataray drew a blocking foul and stopped a 5-0 Spring Creek run with a pair of free throws for the Indians, but Miner drew contact and went to the line for a one-of-two trip for the Spartans.
Zataray went to the left and gave Elko a 26-21 lead, but the Spartans held the Indians scoreless for the remainder of the half.
Senior Caden Jangard made one of two from the stripe after an Elko foul on the perimeter, and Spring Creek used some late-half touch to inch nearer.
Sophomore Reed Westwood did a shake-and-bake crossover from the right wing, leaving his defender and getting the shooter’s touch at the buzzer.
At the break, Elko led by two at 26-24.
The Indians’ two-point advantage was nullified on Spring Creek’s opening possession of the second half – Ledford working hard on the right block for a layup.
Elko went back up two on their next trip, Yopps sticking with a play after being blocked for a finish in traffic.
Zataray gave the Indians a three-point lead with a free throw, but Spring Creek forced a turnover and found Ledford on the break – drawing a foul.
He tied the ballgame with a free throw, but Sean Klekas showed freshman chops with a three for Elko on the other end and made a big defensive play – drawing a charge.
Spring Creek pulled to within two on a free throw by senior Dakota Larson.
Yopps was blocked on Elko’s next possession but was hacked in the process, sinking one attempt from the stripe.
Eary made a pair of freebies, and Spring Creek took its first lead since its opening basket – forcing an Elko turnover.
Miner looked ahead and connected with Larson on the break, giving the Spartans a 34-33 advantage with 3:45 remaining in the third.
Alex Klekas drilled a dead-eye three in response for a 36-34 Elko lead, but Miner tied the game with a deuce for the Spartans.
On the left block, Alex Klekas scored against contact and put the Indians up 38-36, but Elko was handed a technical foul.
Miner was as cool as the other side of the pillow, nailing both free throws.
Zataray worked free and Wickersham made a perfect bounce pass, Zataray finishing with the foul.
Elko took a 40-38 lead with 1:40 remaining in the third.
He came up big once again, making a pump fake and driving down Main Street for a runner in the lane and a four-point lead.
After three periods, Elko had itself a ballgame at 42-38.
The Indians scored the first bucket of the fourth, senior Angelo Antoniou notching his first bucket of the game at a crucial time.
Elko committed a foul 80 feet from the basket, Ledford making one free throw.
The Indians used good ball movement but Eary drew a big charge for the Spartans.
Spring Creek made an empty trip, and Sean Klekas coaxed home a pull-up three and an eight-point lead.
Elko’s defense came up big on several possessions, forcing steals and gaining a huge block by Yopps – igniting a runaway layup by Alex Klekas.
The Indians pulled ahead 49-39 with 4:36 remaining.
Antoniou penetrated and finished for a 12-point cushion, but Spring Creek cut the deficit to 10 with 2:45 remaining on a put-back by senior Jake Oliphant, who reentered the game after sitting with four fouls.
Oliphant trimmed further into the deficit after another offensive rebound, sinking two free throws.
Elko senior Stockton Salyer made a big move and scored at the rim from the right wing, pushing the lead back to 10.
A free throw by Sean Klekas and a miss by Spring Creek essentially ended the contest with a little more than a minute on the clock.
Alex Klekas was fouled and sank both shots with 50 seconds remaining, followed by a jumper from Larson for the Spartans.
Another free throw was added by Alex Klekas, Olihpant adding one for the Spartans.
In the end, Elko dug deep and overcame a major push from the Spartans, wining by a final score of 57-46.
Alex Klekas led the Indians with 14 points, Elko gaining four double-digit scorers.
Yopps and Zataray each finished 11 points, and Sean Klekas finished with 10 points.
Despite battling foul trouble and fouling out in the fourth, Miner scored 14 points for the Spartans.
Ledford finished with nine points, and Larson tallied eight for Spring Creek.
ELKO – 15 – 11 – 16 – 15 – 57 Total
SPRING CREEK – 12 – 12 – 14 – 8 – 46 Total
Elko remains unbeaten at 5-0 in the 3A North and will take on Sparks at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Centennial Gymnasium.
The Spartans (1-4) with look for their second win in league play at 7:30 p.m. Friday against Truckee in Spring Creek.