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Thomas Ledford

Spring Creek's Thomas Ledford (34) celebrates after grabbing a defensive rebound that sealed the Spartans' 57-55 victory over Fallon in the Division 3A North regional semifinal Friday at Centennial Gymnasium. Ledford led Spring Creek with 16 points. The Spartans advanced to the regional championship and will play at 5 p.m. Saturday.

ELKO – In the early stages of Friday’s Division 3A North semifinal game between the Spring Creek Spartans and the Fallon Greenwave, the Spartans dominated early and hung on late.

Spring Creek booked a trip to state and a spot in the regional championship with a 57-55 victory.

After not scoring points Thursday against Dayton, the Spartans tallied runs in bunches Friday.

Fallon took a quick 2-0 lead by sophomore Elijah Jackson’s jumper, but the Spartans went up one with a three by senior Levi Yaunick.

Junior Hayden Strasdin drove the left side for a 4-3 lead for the Greenwave, but Spring Creek ripped off a 13-0 run.

Miner began the streak with a free throw, followed by a close finish by senior Dakota Larson – Miner forcing a timeout with a point-blank look in the left side.

From the reset, active hands and feet for the Spartans on defense turned into offense.

Senior Jake Oliphant finished a strong jump hook from the right block, and Yaunick cut backdoor for an assist from Miner – putting Spring Creek up 10 with a steal and stroll to the tin.

Senior Thomas Ledford capped the surge with a pair of freebies, opening a 16-4 advantage.

Jackson stopped Fallon’s scoreless stretch with a three, but Yaunick notched his third field goal with an aggressive take to the bucket.

Senior Daniel Eary took a charge for the Spartans, the quarter ending with the Spartans on top by 11 at 18-7.

In the second, Ledford opened the scoring with two from the stripe.

Jackson tallied his third score with a deuce, starting a 6-0 run, sophomore Thomas Steele scoring twice from the right side.

Oliphant finished in traffic from the middle of the lane, but junior Bryce Larson knocked down a pull-up jumper for the Wave.

Spring Creek answered the challenge with three straight scores of its own, opening a 28-17 lead.

Miner made another steal for a layup, Ledford scored on a follow-up and Yaunick cashed a pair of freebies.

Steele scored from an inbound pass, but Yaunick made a pivot move in the lane to the right block and dropped a bunny on a pass from Ledford.

Fallon scored the next four, Jackson coming free off a curl and senior Christian Nemeth making two free throws.

Yaunick scored from the right side on the fly, receiving a gorgeous lob pass from Miner.

Nemeth booked the next four for the Greenwave, but Oliphant grabbed a big board for a put-back to close the half.

Spring Creek led by seven at 34-27 going to the locker room.

The Spartans’ advantage nearly diminished in the first minute and a half into the third quarter.

Strasdin scored on the left block, followed by a bucket by Steele as Spring Creek’s defender attempted to draw a charging foul – the 6-0 run closing with a finish through contact by junior John Cooley.

Miner stopped the run with a pair of free throws, but the Greenwave pulled to within one on a hesitation layup in traffic by Cooley.

Fallon went up 37-36 on a cherry-pick deuce by Steele on an outlet look from Cooley with 5:15 remaining in the third.

Ledford regained the lead for the Spartans with two free throws, but Spring Creek lost sophomore Brock Richardson on the weak side – giving Fallon a 39-38 advantage.

Spring Creek took a timeout with 3:52 on the clock.

Ledford made a determined baseline drive and knocked down a free throw to tie the game, and gave the Spartans a two-point lead with a put-back on the right block.

Jackson booked a deuce and knotted the score at 41-all, but Ledford added another two-pointer for the Spartans.

A three-pointer from the left wing by Jackson bounced off the rim and fell for a 44-43 lead for Fallon, but the Greenwave’s star went to the bench with 1:30 remaining in the third with four fouls.

Cooley hammered home a triple from the opposite wing and a four-point cushion, but the Spartans reached the single-bonus without committing a foul – Oliphant pulling Spring Creek to within two at 47-45 with two freebies.

Ledford tied the game from the stripe with seven minutes remaining in the fourth, and Larson went to the line with the foul count at 10 — in the Spartans’ favor – giving Spring Creek a 49-47 lead and pushing the advantage to four with a layup on the left side.

Steele cut the lead in half from the line, but Oliphant was granted a blocking foul and finished with the hoop and the free throw – opening a 54-49 lead.

The lead was cut to three on a midrange J from Steele.

Ledford grabbed an errant shot and scored on the right block, putting the Spartans on top 56-51 with 2:39 on the clock.

Jackson dished an assist to Steele with 1:50 on the clock.

The Greenwave took a timeout with 1:22 remaining, trailing 56-53.

Spring Creek chewed up clock and went to the line but missed both free throws, Fallon slicing the lead to one with a finish by Steele on a dime from Jackson with 20 seconds remaining.

Miner went to the line with 16 ticks on the clock and made one free throw.

Trailing 57-55, Jackson went for the W.

He rose up for a three and dropped the triple, but the ball rattled around and came out – Ledford grabbing the rebound and sealing Spring Creek’s trip to state.

The Spartans nearly coughed a double-digit lead but held on for a 57-55 victory.

Ledford led the Spartans with 16 points, followed by 14 from Yaunick.

Steele scored a team-high 18 points for the Greenwave, Jackson closing with 14 points.

Oliphant scored in double figures with 11 points for Spring Creek, Cooley adding seven points for Fallon.

SPRING CREEK – 18 – 16 – 13 – 10 – 57 Total

FALLON – 7 – 20 – 18 – 10 – 55 Total

The Spartans advanced to the 3A North regional final and will face the Fernley-Elko winner at 5 p.m. Saturday at Centennial Gymnasium.


Sports editor and reporter

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