LAS VEGAS – Spring Creek girls basketball coach Holly Miller knew her team was in for a long game Thursday morning.
After giving two-time defending Nevada state champion Fallon a mighty scare Saturday in a 52-45 loss, the Lady Spartans ran into a totally-different bear during the first game of the Las Vegas Holiday Classic.
Spring Creek was matched up against the 13th-ranked team in the state of California and the 39th-ranked team in the country, the Lady Bruins of Bear Creek, from Stockton.
“When I looked at MaxPreps, I knew we were in for a tough time. They were ranked 30-something in the nation and 13th in California, so I knew they were really good,” Miller said. “They beat Reno by like 50 (90-41 on Dec. 7), and Reno is always the best 4A team in the North for Nevada.”
Miller said her team played solid defense in the early going but allowed some scores on offensive rebounds, Spring Creek playing Bear Creek evenly to 6-6 to start the game.
“We started really well but gave up some offensive boards. When it was tied 6-6, their coach took a timeout and let them have it,” she said. “After that, the score went to 18-6 in a hurry.”
The Lady Bruins closed the first quarter on a 26-3 run and opened a 32-9 advantage.
Throughout the remainder of the contest, Bear Creek approximately doubled Spring Creek.
Bear Creek outscored the Lady Spartans 17-8 in the second quarter for a 49-17 lead at the break, and the Lady Bruins added a 12-6 cushion in the third period for a 61-23 lead entering the fourth frame.
With the contest out of reach, Bear Creek called off the bears and coasted – the Lady Spartans outscoring the Lady Bruins for the first and only time by a margin of 8-5 in the final period.
In the end, the first-quarter blitz by one of the best teams in the nation resulted in a 66-31 loss for Spring Creek.
Bear Creek improved to 10-1 on the season, the Lady Bruins’ lone loss of 55-36 coming against the 13th-ranked team in the country and the No. 7 squad in California, the Carondelet Lady Cougars, of Concord.
Against Spring Creek, Bear Creek did damage from distance – sticking seven 3s – hitting five triples in the first half.
“We purposely gave up threes because we I wanted us to work on our help-side rotation,” Miller said. “We got our butts kicked, but we did some good things and worked on getting back on defense – sprinting and covering the key first.”
Sophomore Mya Blake, the leading scorer for the Lady Bruins at 21.7 points per game, poured in around her season average against the Lady Spartans with a game-high 22 points, nailing two 3s.
Freshman Junae Mahan finished in double figures for Bear Creek with 14 points, and senior Cassidy Byrne also reach double digits with 10 points – splashing two triples.
Sophomore Andraya Perez closed out the three-point barrage for the Lady Bruins, tallying each of her nine points from beyond the arc.
Senior center Alayna Grosz led the Lady Spartans with a team-high eight points, followed by six points from sophomore post Kylee Dimick.
Senior point guard Jasmine Yadeskie and senior forward Caitlyn Dimick finished with four-points apiece.
Junior Cheyenne Cleveland closed with three points, and Spring Creek’s scoring was rounded out by a deuce each for sophomore Chelsea Ackerman, senior Shaylynn Yaunick and freshman Payge Walz – who Miller called up from the junior varsity.
Defensively, the Lady Spartans did a good job against senior forward Deyliana Lewis – who entered the contest averaging 14.9 points – limiting her to five points.
“That’s why we play in big tournaments against great teams; to learn and to get better,” Miller said.
Spring Creek will play its second game of the Las Vegas Holiday Classic at 11:20 a.m. Friday, taking on Cimarron-Memorial in a matchup of Lady Spartans versus Lady Spartans.
Cimarron-Memorial was throttled 63-33 on Thursday by St. Mary’s Academy (Inglewood, California), the Lady Belles ranked 24th in the state and 93rd in the country.
With a victory, Spring Creek would play their second game of the day at 7:20 p.m. Friday, a loss setting up a 3:20 p.m. tipoff.
Spring Creek Boys
Playing in the Rancho Mirage Holiday Invitational (California), the Spartans were blasted Thursday by the hosting Rattlers by a final score of 82-25.
Spring Creek will play Brawley (California) at noon Friday.