The first round of the battle for the unofficial title of the “Championship of Sparks” went to Spanish Springs High School. The Cougars hosted the Reed Raiders and led almost the entire game. The last time Reed was in front was 5-4.
At the end of one quarter SSHS had a five point lead 15-10. By halftime, it was an upped to eight at 27-19.
Both teams started slowly and it was clear their nerves were a big part of it. Reed had only lost twice in 19 games this year and Spanish Springs were winners in 17 of their twenty games. The only common opponent that had beaten them both was Bishop Manogue. Reed lost 55-48, while the Cougars also were dropped by the Miners by the same point total of seven, in a 56-49 setback.
In the first 16 minutes it was the Leo Grass show. The 6’1 Senior ended with a game high 22 points, but it was his 18 first half points that kept his team in the lead. The Raiders leading scorer, Matt Williams was held to just eight.
The lead swelled to 15 mid-way through the third. But by the end, it was Spanish Springs leading by 10, 44-34. In the fourth quarter Reed played with a great deal of urgency and cut the lead to five. Williams was back on track and ended with a team high 16. Tyler Wilson made some clutch inside shots and was right behind Williams with 14 points. Takoda Kester and Trey Stevens added seven points each, while Neil Baysa gave them eight off the bench.
SSHS put four players in double digits. Besides Grass, DJ Panfili had 10 in the last period, all put two, coming on 8 for 13 free throw shooting. Cordell Stinson contributed 12 and Dante Craig finished with 11.
Spanish Springs won the first game, but when the Raiders get a rematch at home it could be a whole different story.
The video highlights from the game are below.