SPRING CREEK – After consecutive victories – one coming against No. 2 South Tahoe on Saturday – another No. 2 was created and the Spring Creek boys basketball team now finds itself tied for third place in the Division 3A North standings.
The Spartans overcame a slow start Friday in a 57-42 victory over Dayton, closing the weekend in a thrilling, 61-58 victory over Saturday over South Tahoe.
Versus South Tahoe
The contest against the then-No. 2 Vikings provided back-and-forth runs by each club, coming down to the final frame – the closing seconds.
Spring Creek senior Jake Oliphant opened the scoring with a bucket on the left block, but he was swatted on the next possession by senior McCallan Castles – who went coast-to-coast and tied the game for the Vikings.
Senior Levi Yaunick scored on a backdoor cut along the baseline from a pass by Oliphant, and senior Ryan Miner opened a 6-2 lead from the stripe.
The Vikings pulled to within one on a three by junior Kevin Lehmann, taking the lead on a steal by Castles and assist to senior Matt Cain.
Miner tied the game with a free throw and gave the Spartans the lead with a scoop finish.
The back-and-forth began, Lehmann scoring consecutive buckets.
Senior Thomas Ledford tied the game with a put-back, the advantage trading hands once again with a follow by Castles.
An And-1 by Lehmann gave the Vikings a 15-11 lead, the Spartans getting picked clean in the backcourt by the South Tahoe defense on numerous possessions.
Sophomore Cameron Lehmann pushed the advantage to five at 16-11 with a free, Spring Creek senior Caden Jangard making a freebie on the other end.
The Spartans trailed 16-12 after the first quarter.
Cain jumped a passing lane and went the other way for a layup, and senior Ruzzell Valiente scored from the left side for a 20-12 advantage.
Spring Creek’s saving grace in the period and throughout the ballgame was the foul count, reaching the single bonus with 7:43 on the clock in the second period.
Miner cut into the lead with a pair of free throws, but Lehmann hit his second three from a screen by Castles – opening a nine-point advantage of 23-14 with five minutes remaining in the half.
Miner made a strong finish along the left block, narrowly slipping a shot over the outstretched hand of the 6-foot-5 Castles off the glass.
Castles made a put-back from the offensive glass, but Yaunick knocked down a high-arching jumper over Castles for the Spartans.
Valiente made a free throw, and Castles tipped in the miss on the second attempt.
However, Castles was limited for the remainder of the half with two fouls.
Ledford buried a pair from the line, followed by one freebie from Kevin Lehmann.
Oliphant knocked down two free throws, and Ledford scored on a put-back for Spring Creek.
Yaunick made a steal and cruised in for a layup, the pressure of the Spartans turning the tables on the Vikings.
Miner made two free throws and Jangard closed the period with another freebie, Spring Creek closing the half on a 9-0 run – tying the game.
At halftime, the contest was knotted up at 29-all.
Castles made a strong take to open the third period, but he picked up his third foul – Oliphant sinking both free throws.
Valiente scored consecutive deuces for the Vikings, opening a 35-31 lead.
Spring Creek made its run – beginning with an And-1 by Jangard.
A put-back Oliphant tied the game, and the Spartans began to do damage with their flex offense.
Sophomore Reed Westwood scored on a follow, Oliphant came free and scored on a feed from Jangard and Westwood made a nasty spin and finished at the rim.
The Spartans closed the quarter with a 10-0 run and led 41-35 entering the final frame.
In the fourth, Castles opened with a pull-up jumper and Valiente splashed a three for the Vikings.
Spring Creek got the ball to Oliphant and he received a bunny when Castles let him go free, not wanting to pick up his fourth foul.
Oliphant scored again on an assist from Miner for a 45-40 lead, but South Tahoe junior Cameron Johnson cut the deficit to three with a tough scoop.
Foul trouble hit the Vikings with full force, Valiente sitting after his fifth foul.
Miner made two free throws, but Castles knocked down a jumper in quick response from the elbow.
Westwood made a huge bank shot on the run for the Spartans, but Cameron Lehmann buried a three from the right wing.
A tip by Westwood came at a crucial juncture and gave the Spartans a 51-47 lead, but another triple for the Vikings by Johnson made the score a one-point affair.
The sophomore put the Spartans on his back in crunch time, Westwood scoring on a baseline from a dish by Jangard.
Cain made a free throw, but the Spartans were sent the bonus.
Miner dropped two from the stripe, but Kevin Lehmann scored down the middle of the lane.
With Spring Creek on top 56-53 with 1:28 remaining, Cameron Lehmann picked the ball handler clean but was called for a foul – the Spartans dodging a bullet on the apparent turnover.
Miner gave Spring Creek a five-point lead with two free throws, but Cameron Lehmann hit a big three for the Vikings but was not awarded the possibility of a four-point play with contact in the left corner.
South Tahoe was forced to foul with 33 seconds on the clock to extend the game, but Jangard calmly sank both attempts for a four-point lead.
Johnson cut the lead to two with an up-fake and drive with 24.6 seconds remaining, and Miner went 1-for-2 from the stripe with 13 seconds on the clock.
The Vikings earned a final chance with .6 on the clock in a full-court situation.
The pass down the floor to Castles was on-point, he made the catch and turned to fire but Oliphant went straight up and got a piece of the potential game-tying heave.
The Spartans improved to 7-5 in league play with a 61-58 victory, notching a four-game winning streak in the Division 3A North after starting 3-5.
Spring Creek defeated a No. 2 team for the third-consecutive game, jumping to third in the league standings.
South Tahoe dropped to 7-5, the season series with the Spartans tied at one-game apiece.
Spring Creek earned 32 attempts at the line, knocking down 78 percent and scoring 25 points at the stripe – Miner hitting 15-for-19.
He led the team with 19 points, joined in double figures by 14 from Oliphant and 10 by Westwood – all coming in the second half.
Oliphant nearly tallied a double-double, leading Spring Creek with nine rebounds.
Ledford, Yaunick and Jangard each scored six points for the Spartans.
Yaunick topped the roster with three steals, and Ledford swatted the only block for the Spartans.
Kevin Lehmann scored a team-high 15 points for the Vikings – 13 coming in the first half – Castles closed with 14 points in limited minutes and Valiente finished with 10 points before fouling out.
Johnson scored all seven of his points in the fourth quarter, and Cameron Lehmann tallied six of his seven points on two 3s in the fourth for South Tahoe.
SOUTH TAHOE – 16 – 13 – 6 – 23 – 58 Total
SPRING CREEK – 12 – 17 – 12 – 20 – 61 Total
Spring Creek started slowly Friday but finished with a big second half, easing to a 57-42 victory over Dayton.
The Dust Devils did not light up the scoreboard by any means, but the Spartans were stagnant in the first half on the offensive side of the ball.
Dayton scored eight points in the first period and nine in the second, limiting Spring Creek to totals of seven and nine.
At halftime, the Spartans trailed 17-16.
Spring Creek came out of the locker room with a focused intensity in the third quarter, putting 21 points on the scoreboard and limiting Dayton to 10.
The 11-point swing gave the Spartans a 37-27 lead entering the fourth quarter.
As was the case Saturday against South Tahoe, Spring Creek put away the Dust Devils from the stripe – scoring 14 of its 20 points in the fourth quarter on free throws.
The Dust Devils tallied 15 points in the final frame but could not overcome their fouls.
Spring Creek scored 23 of its 42 points in the second half from free throws, cruising to a 15-point victory of 57-42.
Oliphant led the Spartans with 14 points, Yaunick notching 11 points.
Ledford and Miner finishing in double digits with 10 points apiece, Ledford scoring eight of his 10 at the line and Miner going a perfect 6-for-6 from the stripe.
Senior Dakota Larson scored eight points.
Oliphant and Ledford led the Spartans on the glass, each grabbing eight rebounds.
Miner came away with a team-best three steals.
As a team, the Spartans finished 27-for-40 from the line – taking an incredible 34 and making 23 in the second half.
Senior Trevor Burrows led the Dust Devils with 17 points – seven coming from the line – and junior Joshua Pasasouk scored in double figures with 10 points, all coming in the first half.
Sophomore Keerat Bhullar finished with six points for Dayton.
DAYTON – 8 – 9 – 10 – 15 – 42 Total
SPRING CREEK – 7 – 9 – 21 – 20 – 57 Total
The Spartans will embark on their final true road trip, playing at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Truckee and closing with a 2:30 p.m. contest Saturday in Sparks.