It’s one of the most over-used mantras in sports — the phrase, “One game at a time.”
But it rings true this week as the NIAA Northern Region basketball tournaments begin. Theoretically, every team is on a even level, all 0-0, and now it’s win or go home.
For Spanish Springs, the top seed out of the Division I High Desert League, it means getting past a Douglas team it lost to in early January, 42-41.
Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said Douglas is disciplined and balanced.
“We’ve got to make some adjustments based off the first time we played them,” Penney said. “We’ve got to be better and we’ve got to be at our best.”
Spanish Springs senior Jake Prizina said the Cougars are young, but confident.
“We’re playing good basketball right now,” Prizina said. “It’s a good time to play our best and hopefully we can get better.”
The Cougars have been on a hot streak lately, winning their past eight games, including a 53-39 trouncing of Reed in the regular-season finale.
Meanwhile, Douglas is coming off a 37-28 loss to Carson on Friday. The win gave the Senators their first league title since 2003. Carson and Galena both finished 13-3 in the Sierra League, but Carson won the tiebreaker.
Carson is trying for its first region title since 1995. They open with North Valleys on Tuesday, a team they beat, 64-52, on Jan. 6.
If it wins Tuesday, Carson will have the home-court advantage, as the semifinals and championship games are all at Carson.
Also Tuesday, Reno plays at Galena. The Grizzlies beat Reno twice during the season, the last time on Dec. 19, 60-42.
One of the more intriguing matchups is No. 3 Bishop Manogue at No. 2 Reed. Reed beat Manogue, 58-50, on Feb. 7, in a game that was rescheduled from an earlier date, due to refurbishing of the Reed gym.
After a strong start, Manogue is 3-3 in its past six games. Reed is 4-2.
“You just want to play basketball. You work all year long for this opportunity and you don’t want to change what you’re doing,” Penney said. “You want to be better at what you do.”
Elko is the top seed in the Northern Division I-A and has won 17 consecutive games, including 58-37 over No. 2 seed Lowry on Saturday.
Elko plays Fallon on Friday and Lowry plays Spring Creek, also at Fallon. Elko beat Fallon, 59-37, on Jan. 24 and Lowry beat Spring Creek on Feb. 13, 59-47.
Yerington is the No. 1 seed and will face Pershing County on Friday at Incline. Yerington beat Pershing County, 55-40, on Jan 23.
No. 2 Incline plays No. 3 Battle Mountain. Incline beat Battle Mountain, 68-60, on Jan. 24.
Yerington went 13-1 in league (22-4 overall), its lone league loss a 55-48 setback to Battle Mountain on Jan. 10.
Whittell (15-1) is the No. 1 seed in the West Division after beating No. 2 Virginia City, 57-43, on Friday. That win avenged an earlier loss to the Muckers (15-1) in Virginia City on Jan. 23.
The defending state champion Warriors reeled off eight straight wins after that loss.
Eureka is the No. 1 seed out of the East Division. The Vandals went 9-1 in league games, 21-4 overall.
Eureka will face Excel Christian (9-6), from Sparks, which qualified for the tournament for the first time.
Virginia City faces Wells in the quarterfinals, which start Thursday.
The Division IV region tournament is at Spring Creek, with quarterfinals at both the middle school and high school, then moving to just Spring Creek High School.
At stake in all tournaments are regional championships and berths in the NIAA state tournaments, which run from Feb. 26-28 in Las Vegas.
For Division I teams, only the regional champions will move on to state. The three smaller divisions will advance both the regional champion and runners-up into their respective state tournaments.
NORTHERN REGION TOURNAMENTS
Quarterfinals, Tuesday: 7 p.m., North Valleys at Carson; Bishop Manogue at Reed; Douglas at Spanish Springs; Reno at Galena.
Semifinals, Thursday: at Carson, Carson-North Valleys winner vs. Reed B.Manogue winner, 5:30 p.m. Sp.Springs-Douglas winner vs. Galena-Reno winner, 7:15 p.m.
Championship, Saturday: at Carson, 6 p.m.
Quarterfinals, Friday: at Fallon, 4:40 p.m., Lowry vs. Spring Creek; 8 p.m., Elko vs. Fallon.
Championship, Saturday: at Fallon, 2 p.m.
Semifinals, Friday: at Incline, 4:40 p.m., Incline vs. Battle Mountain; 8 p.m., Yerington vs. Pershing County.
Championship, Saturday: at Incline, 2 p.m.
Quarterfinals, Thursday: at Spring Creek High School, 4:40 p.m., Whittell vs. Owyhee; 8 p.m., Eureka vs. Excel Christian.
At Spring Creek Middle School, 3 p.m., McDermitt vs. Mineral County; 6:20 p.m., Virginia City vs. Owyhee.
Semifinals, Friday: at Spring Creek High School, 4:40 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Championship, Saturday: at Spring Creek HS, 2 p.m.