They have won 10 in a row and seem to be in control of their own destiny.
But, a painful loss last season is driving the Spanish Springs boys basketball team.
That quarterfinal loss in the Northern 4A Regional tournament, 63-50, to Galena is never far from the minds of the Cougars.
Spanish Springs is 12-0 in league play with four regular-season games remaining.
Marcus Loadholt leads the team in scoring a 20.6 points per game (4.7 rebounds) and Josh Prizina is the leading rebounder at 7.9 per game.
Both have been on the varsity since their freshmen year.
“Last year, falling so short in the playoffs, that was a lot of motivation for us to come out this year and not take any day for granted, because this is our last season,” Loadholt said.
He said that playoff loss to Galena was a sobering experience.
“We had a lot of high expectations (last season) for us and to get bounced in the first round of the payoffs was like a big smack in the face, like reality that we’re not as good as we think we are,” he said
Loadholt said having all those seasons of varsity experience is now paying off.
Spanish Springs beat Galena this season to avenge that loss. The Cougars’ only loss to a Northern Nevada team was to Bishop Manogue in early December, when they were without Prizina. Spanish Springs later beat Manogue.
Loadholt said the players are determined to not get complacent this time.
Coach Kyle Penney is good at reminding them of that.
“We know that anything can happen. Penney tells us every day, even after a win, that we’re no better than anybody else,” Loadholt said.
He said the Cougars are deeper this season than last and that the bench players push the starters to go hard every day.
Jalen Townsell, a junior and the second-leading scorer at 13.9 ppg, said the Cougars tapered off late last season.
“Last year helped us prepare for this year and we don’t want the same thing to happen,” Townsell said.
Penney said the playoff loss last season drives the returning players.
He said the aim this year is to approach every game like it is a championship game.
“If you play a championship game every day, then maybe you’re ready for it, if you happen to be in one,” Penney said.
Penney said the long-term goal is to establish a winning tradition.
The junior varsity and freshmen teams are also having successful seasons and Penney said the future looks bright for the Cougars.
“We always tell the kids, their responsibility is to leave the program better than when they arrived,” he said. “If they’re doing that, then Spanish Springs will continue to be competitive.”
Tuesday: (all doubleheaders) Girls at 5:15 p.m., boys at 7 p.m., Hug at McQueen, Spanish Springs at North Valleys, Reno at Reed, Carson at Bishop Manogue, Damonte Ranch at Douglas, Galena at Wooster.
Friday: (all doubleheaders) Girls at 5:15 p.m., boys at 7 p.m., Hug at Spanish Springs; McQueen at Reed; North Valleys at Reno; Galena at Bishop Manogue; Damonte Ranch at Carson; Douglas at Wooster.
Boys Basketball Standings
Spanish Springs 12-0
North Valleys 2-10
Bishop Manogue 9-3
Damonte Ranch 3-9
Girls Basketball Standings
Spanish Springs 9-3
North Valleys 5-7
Bishop Manogue 12-0
Damonte Ranch 4-8