SPRING CREEK – In two early meetings between the West Wendover and Spring Creek boys basketball teams, slight advantage Spring Creek.
The Spartans defeated the Wolverines 62-58 on Dec. 2 in the Lake Mead Holiday Classic, Tuesday’s matchup providing another barnburner score.
Spring Creek held off a furious West Wendover rally in the second half, the Spartans coming up with one of their own and pulling off a 62-56 victory in Spring Creek – the two wins separated by a grand total of 10 points.
The Spartans used their size advantage over the much smaller Wolverines – especially in the early going.
Spring Creek 6-foot-5 senior center Jake Oliphant feasted on the Wolverines’ little lineup in the first quarter – scoring the first eight points of the game.
Oliphant scored the first bucket on an And-1 finish and made the free throw, taking a steal the other way for a layup and cashing in his second three-point play of the opening moments.
West Wendover found its first bucket of the contest and cut the lead to 8-2 on a deuce by senior forward Eric Cerna, but Oliphant gave the Spartans a 10-2 advantage with a hook shot in the lane.
The Wolverines pulled to within six for the second time on a drive by senior Saul Palacios.
Spring Creek senior Dakota Larson scored in transition with a layup on the left block, but junior wing Armondo Gonzalez-Haro buried a three for West Wendover.
The Wolverines pulled to within two on a goaltend by Spring Creek, the bucket on the break awarded to junior Eric Correa – also given an And-1 – knocking down the free throw.
Oliphant was blocked but he collected the loose ball and dropped his 11th and 12th points of the game to close the frame.
After the first, Spring Creek led 14-10.
Senior Fabian Haro beat his defender off the dribble and cut the deficit to two with a floater, but Spring Creek senior Levi Yaunick took advantage as the Wolverines paid extra attention to Oliphant in the middle.
Yaunick set up along the left side and spread the floor, his teammates finding him for a baseline jumper and a three on an assist from senior Caden Jangard for a 19-12 advantage.
West Wendover senior Arturo Flores came free on a curl and penetrated for a finish, but Spring Creek senior Thomas Ledford made one-of-two free throws.
Oliphant came up with back-to-back steals and drives to the cup for layups, extending Spring Creek’s lead to 10 at 24-14, forcing a timeout with a 4:41 remaining in the half.
Gonzalez-Haro buried a three from the left corner for the Wolverines, but Spring Creek senior Daniel Eary stepped up defensively and drew a charge – nullifying a would-be bucket.
Sophomore Reed Westwood cashed an off-glass shot from midrange for the Spartans, Jangard hanging in the air and finishing just before coming back to the ground for a 28-17 lead.
Flores worked free with a pump fake along the baseline and scored inside for the Wolverines, but Ledford made one of two free throws to close the half for Spring Creek.
Down 29-19 at the break, the Wolverines made a big push in the third period.
West Wendover took the lead with a 15-0 run in the third, but Spring Creek regained its sea legs and asserted its size advantage in the middle.
In the end, the Spartans hung on for a 62-56 victory.
Oliphant posted a monster double-double for the Spartans – finishing with a game-high 23 points and 12 rebounds.
He scored 12 points in the first quarter and 16 of his 23 in the first half.
Spring Creek finished with three players in double figures; Yaunick and Ledford joining Oliphant with 13 points and 12 points, respectively, taking advantage of opportunities created by the Wolverines going to a zone defense to try to stop Oliphant.
Yaunick finished with three 3s, scoring nine of his 13 in the second half.
Ledford poured in double digits in the second half alone, scoring 10 of his 12 after the break.
The Wolverines also had three players in double digits, led by 16 apiece from Flores and Correa.
Correa scored 13 of his 16 in the second half, 12 of Flores’ 16 also coming after the break.
Palacios finished with 14 points, scoring a dozen in the final two quarters.
Spring Creek will play its next games at the BBB Eagle Holiday Classic in Draper, Utah, facing Lehi (Utah) at 3 p.m. on Dec. 29 and Ridgeline (Utah) at 2 p.m. on Dec. 30.
The Spartans (1-3 in league play) will return to Division 3A North action at home, hosting the Elko Indians at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 2 in Spring Creek.
The Wolverines (2-0 in Division 2A North) will face its toughest weekend of home contests after the break, hosting the Battle Mountain Longhorns at 7:30 p.m. MST on Jan. 5 and the Pershing County Mustangs at 3:30 p.m. MST on Jan. 6 in West Wendover.