Thomas Ledford

Spring Creek's Thomas Ledford rises up for a jumper on Jan. 5 against Truckee at Spring Creek High School. The Spartans have improved to 3-4 in the Division 3A North, facing an important battle to close the first half of league play against Lowry (2-5) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Winnemucca.

SPRING CREEK – Friday’s matchup between the Spring Creek boys basketball and Lowry is almost a must-win for each club in the playoff picture.

After a 1-4 start in the Division 3A North, the Spartans improved to 3-4 with consecutive victories over Truckee and Sparks – jumping from eighth in the league standings to a tie for fifth and sixth.

Lowry lost Tuesday at home to Elko by a final score of 49-30 – falling to 2-5 in league – but the Buckaroos have another chance to end the first half of the 3A North slate with a victory on their home floor.

The Spartans will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Winnemucca, the contest potentially looming large for a little breathing room in the playoff picture for Spring Creek, but a Lowry victory could get the Bucks right back in the hunt.

A Spring Creek victory would jump the Spartans to an even 4-4, while a Lowry win would send the Bucks to 3-5 and create a tie – with Lowry holding the head-to-head advantage, in what would essentially be a two-game swing.

Only midway through the season, it may seem a little early to discuss postseason scenarios – but every contest plays its part in shaping the outcome of every team’s successes or shortcomings.

The Buckaroos are an improved team from last season, a year which they finished 6-10 and missed the regional tournament by one spot.

Lowry’s roster contains plenty of size, including nine players who stand 6-feet or taller – topped by 6-foot-5 senior Lorenzo Mattson and 6-foot-4 junior Dorsey Naveran.

The Bucks are a young bunch, playing with just three seniors.

Lowry’s roster includes nine juniors and sophomore Kobe Stoker.

Spring Creek has the experience advantage, starting five seniors who all have at least two years of varsity ball under their belts.

Like Lowry, the Spartans are one of the biggest teams in the 3A North, all five starters standing 6-feet or taller – including 6-foot-5 senior center Jake Oliphant, 6-foot-4 wing Levi Yaunick and 6-foot-3 power forward Thomas Ledford.

Yaunick leads the Spartans in scoring at 13.1 points per game, followed in double digits by 11.3 points from Oliphant – who tops the team with 8.8 rebounds per contest.

Ledford also works hard on the glass, yanking down 7.7 rebounds and adding 7.3 points.

At the point, senior Ryan Miner has made notable games in his game – improving to 8.9 points per game from 4.8 last season.

Miner has shown the propensity to drive the ball and finish against contact, also leading the passing game and defense – averaging 2.2 steals and 1.8 assists.

At shooting guard, senior Dakota Larson scores 6.2 points per game.

“Lowry has a lot of size, they’re always big. It seems like every year, they have a couple kids who are really long,” said Spring Creek coach Scott Carsrud. “We are going to have to rebound the basketball, play good defense and be patient on offense. Truckee killed us on the boards, and we can’t let that happen again. I don’t think we have gotten the ball inside as much as we should yet.”

The Spartans will attempt to distance themselves from the Buckaroos at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Winnemucca.

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