ELKO – The Spring Creek boys basketball team faced an awkward game of keep-away against Dayton on Thursday, eventually pulling away for a 47-35 victory in the Division 3A North quarterfinal.
To say the first half was a low-scoring affair would be like noting Michael Jordan could really put the ball in the bucket – only the opposite playing out in the first eight minutes.
The team went more than three minutes without a field goal, the Spartans missing out on several attempts and the Dust Devils taking very few.
Dayton was content to pass the ball around the perimeter, making Spring Creek move its feet from its 1-2-2 and 2-1-2 zones.
Senior Trevor Burrows finally worked free along the left block for a deuce with 4:40 remaining in the first period.
The drought was stopped for the Spartans by senior Dakota Larson on an offensive rebound and put-back.
Spring Creek went up 4-2 on an And-1 finish by senior Levi Yaunick.
Junior Joshua Pasasouk benefited from penetration by Burrows, who kicked a cross-key pass for an easy finish.
Spring Creek gained a 6-4 lead on a baseline jumper by senior Thomas Ledford, grabbing an 8-4 advantage on a steal from Larson and look-ahead to senior Ryan Miner.
The Spartans began to make things happen when they went away from their zone defenses and started playing hard-nosed, man-to-man defense.
Entering the second period, Dayton chewed up a minute of clock before Pasasouk scored another deuce on the right block on a pass from Burrows.
Ledford raced down the floor and finished with the foul for a three-point play from a Dayton turnover.
Another steal by Miner resulted in a bunny for a 13-6 lead for the Spartans.
Yaunick capped a 7-0 run with a nasty behind-the-back dribble and pull-up from the elbow.
Freshman Tyler Stolfich scored on the left block from an inbound pass for the Dust Devils, but Oliphant finished a three-point play at the stripe following an And-1 finish in traffic.
Burrows tallied the final four points of the half, sinking two free throws and scoring on a put-back.
At halftime, a 16-minute stretch which saw 30 points total, Spring Creek led 18-12.
Oliphant opened the third period with a pair of free throws, but Pasasouk pulled Dayton to within four on consecutive deuces – the second coming on a feed from Burrows.
Oliphant booked another And-1 on the left block, and a follow by Yaunick gave the Spartans an eight-point lead at 24-16.
Senior Chase Peterson dropped a floater for Dayton, and Burrows cut the lead to five with a free throw.
The wheels of Larson gave Spring Creek a nine-point advantage, twice racing ahead of the field for layups – the second bunny coming after a block by Yaunick in the middle.
Yaunick pushed the lead to 11 from the right baseline with a 10-footer.
Stolfich trimmed the lead to nine on the final deuce of the period.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Spartans were on the high side at 30-21.
Burrows became the primary ball handler for the Dust Devils to start the fourth, sticking a three right off the bat.
The Spartans reached the single-bonus with 7:30 remaining in the period, and Ledford cashed both attempts for a 32-24 advantage.
Sophomore Reed Westwood regained a 10-point lead for Spring Creek, slashing down the middle and receiving a dime from Larson.
Burrows cut the lead to eight with 5:15 on the clock with a pair of free throws, splashing another pair for a six-point deficit with 4:45 remaining.
Miner made a steal and was fouled, connecting on both 1-and-1 freebies.
Burrows willed his team back into the game, completing a three-point play at the stripe with 3:22 remaining.
The Spartans turned the ball over, and Stolfich went the distance for a layup from the left side – slicing the deficit to three at 36-33 with three minutes on the clock.
Sophomore Keerat Bhullar made a great defensive play, jumping a passing lane and tipping the ball.
He tracked down the loose ball and saved it off a Spring Creek player while falling out of bounds, but the Dust Devils could not convert – Spring Creek did.
Yaunick reached double figures with 11 points on the Spartans’ biggest three of the season, opening a 39-33 lead with less than two minutes remaining.
Larson came away with a steal, and Oliphant pushed the lead to eight with a put-back.
Burrows made a free throw and the Dust Devils grabbed the board on the second miss but turned it over to the Spartans.
Dayton was forced to foul, Miner sinking two freebies after an empty trip for Spring Creek.
Burrows made another 1-for-2 trip to the stripe for his 19th point, but Yaunick cashed both shots on his stint at the line for a 45-33 lead.
Miner came up with a steal and reached double figures with two freebies, sealing a 47-35 victory for the Spartans.
Burrows scored a game-high 19 points in the loss, Yaunick leading Spring Creek with 13 points.
Miner reached double digits on his final throw for 10 points, and Oliphant closed with nine points.
Ledford scored seven points for Spring Creek, Larson adding seven.
Stolfich and Pasasouk each chipped in six points for the Dust Devils.
DAYTON – 4 – 8 – 9 – 14 – 35 Total
SPRING CREEK – 8 – 10 – 12 – 17 – 47 Total
The Spartans advanced to the regional semifinal and will face No. 2 Fallon at 4:40 p.m. Friday in a state-qualifier battle at Centennial Gymnasium.