SPARKS – The Spring Creek girls basketball team split its opening two games of the Varsity Elite Tournament on Wednesday at Reed High School in Sparks, losing 65-48 to McQueen in the opener but bouncing back with a 54-43 victory in a gem of a defensive effort Wednesday night against Galena.
McQueen built a large lead in the first half; many of its points coming off what Spring Creek head coach Holly Miller said were “unforced turnovers.”
The Lady Lancers built a 17-10 lead by the end of the first quarter, but the second period told the story of the contest – McQueen limiting Spring Creek to nine points in the frame and exploding for 23 of its own.
“We had a terrible first half. We made bad passes and just dropped the ball other times,” Miller said. “We missed a lot of bunnies and gave them a lot of points off our turnovers.”
At the break, the Lady Spartans trailed by 21 at 40-19.
During halftime, Miller told her team to take better care of the basketball and “chip away at the lead.”
In the third period, the Lady Spartans not only chipped away at the lead – they knocked a big chunk out of it.
Spring Creek mounted 18 points in the frame, holding McQueen to 10 – simply from not giving the Lady Lancers extra possessions.
“I thought we did a good job of getting back into the game. We took care of the ball, finished better inside and made our free throws,” Miller said. “We trimmed the lead down to 13 going into the fourth quarter.”
After three quarters, Spring Creek trailed 50-37.
To start the fourth, the Lady Spartans committed three early turnovers – leading to points on the other end – and just like that, “we were down 21 again,” said Miller.
Spring Creek slowly cut into the deficit, but the Lady Spartans could not overcome the momentum-killing stretch to start the fourth and fell by a final score of 65-48.
Freshman Kylee Dimick led the Lady Spartans with nine points, followed by eight points point from senior Teagan Ashby.
Senior Kaitlyn McLeod and junior Caitlyn Dimick each finished with six points, while juniors Alayna Grosz and Shaylynn Yaunick scored five points apiece.
The Lady Spartans shot the ball well from the charity stripe, knocking down 75 percent of their free throws – finishing 15-for-20 as a team.
SPRING CREEK – 10 – 9 – 18 – 11 – 48 Total
MCQUEEN – 17 – 23 – 10 – 15 – 65 Total
After a poor start in their first game of the tournament, the Lady Spartans set the tone of a different ballgame from the jump Wednesday night against Galena.
Spring Creek ripped off to a 22-point frame in the first quarter, but the defense was even more impressive – allowing just two points in the first eight minutes.
The 20-point advantage paved a rocky road for the Lady Grizzlies to travel back from.
“The defense was great. Jasmine (Yadeskie) played incredible defense against their best player, who was averaging about 22 points per game. Delaynee Walz also stepped up and guarded her well,” said Miller. “She ended up with 18 points, but most of them came when we didn’t hedge out on screens, she got some cherry-pick layups and scored from the free throw line. She had to work for her points.”
The Lady Spartans cooled drastically on offense in the second period – mounting just five points – Galena scoring 13, but Spring Creek took a 27-15 lead to the locker room.
In the second half, the game played out evenly.
Spring Creek scored 14 points in the third and 13 in the fourth, Galena edging the Lady Spartans by one point in the final 16 minutes with periods of 12 and 16 points.
A key to the contest and Spring Creek’s victory came from the foul line.
The Lady Spartans scored nine of their 13 points in the fourth quarter from the stripe, going nine of 11 down the stretch.
“We shot our free throws really well when Galena was trying to come back. We finished 22-for-32 for the game, but the fourth quarter was very good,” Miller said.
McLeod and Caitlyn Dimick topped the Spring Creek roster with 10 points apiece, while Kylee Dimick and Grosz each finished with nine points.
Yadeskie, adding to her great defensive game, put in eight points for the Lady Spartans.
SPRING CREEK – 22 – 5 – 14 – 13 – 54 Total
MCQUEEN – 2 – 13 – 12 – 16 – 43 Total
Spring Creek will face another Division 4A North program at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, playing the Lady Mustangs of Damonte Ranch.
The Lady Spartans will close the Varsity Elite Tournament at 11:30 p.m. Friday, but Miller did not know what opponent Spring Creek will face in the final game.