Lady Bucks drop thriller to rival Spartans in final seconds

Lady Bucks drop thriller to rival Spartans in final seconds

Lady Bucks drop thriller to rival Spartans in final seconds

The road to a fifth consecutive state tournament appearance is going to be just a little bit harder for the Lowry High School girls basketball team.

The Northern 3A is a more balanced league this season and the Lady Bucks have experienced that first hand. After suffering a loss at Fernley a couple of weeks ago, Lowry let a win slip away from its fingers this past Friday night against Spring Creek in Winnemucca.

The Lady Bucks built a double-digit lead after a quarter of play but the Spartans came back to win 37-36 in the finals seconds. The loss dropped Lowry to fourth place in the Northern 3A at 5-3.

After the game was tied at 2-2, Lowry scored 12 of the final 14 points of the opening quarter, capped off by a 3-point shot by Sydney Connors after missing her own free throw at the end of the first quarter. Connors netted eight of the 14 points scored in the first eight minutes of play for the Lady Bucks. Kepa Bengochea and Sierra Maestrejuan also had buckets to start the contest.

As good as it was for Lowry to start the game, it was the opposite in the second quarter as the Lady Bucks went nearly six minutes without a point. Spring Creek used an 8-0 run to close the gap to 14-12, when Bengochea ended the spurt with a short jump shot with 2:24 left in the first half. The Spartans rallied to tie the game at 19-19.

Lowry was 1-of-6 from the free throw line in the second quarter — a theme that would continue throughout the night. The Lady Bucks finished 12-of-24 from the foul line on the night.

Spring Creek took its first lead of the night with the opening basket of the second half. The Spartan advantage grew to four points at 25-21, before the Lady Bucks scored the final five points of the third quarter. Lowry went nearly seven minutes without a field goal, when Bengochea stole the ball and converted a layup to narrow the gap to 25-24. Lowry regained the lead with 21 seconds left in the third quarter on a layup by Connors.

Lowry capped off a 9-0 with the first four points of the fourth quarter, all by Connors. The Lady Bucks led 30-25 with 6:26 to play but the Spartans did not go away.

Spring Creek rallied to within one point at 32-31 with 4:41 to play, when Kuskie knocked down her first 3-point shot of the night after a misses free throw by Shelby Garrison.

With 3:54 to play, Lowry had an opportunity to extend the lead to six points but missed a pair of free throws. Spring Creek answered with five straight points to go back in front 36-35 with less than a minute to play.

The Lady Bucks were given another chance to go in front with 23 seconds to go, with Connors at the free throw line. The junior made one of two shots to tie the game.

Spring Creek set up for the last shot but turned the ball over with 4.6 seconds to go. Lowry had the chance to win the game but turned the ball over under its own basket and fouled Spring Creek with 2.2 seconds to go. The Spartans’ Alayna Grosz missed the first free throw but made the second to give Spring Creek a 37-36 lead.

After the free throw, Lowry was unable to get a good shot off.

Connors led Lowry with 19 points and Kuskie added eight. Bengochea finished with six points, Maestrejuan two and Garrison one.

With the first half of the league season complete, Lowry is fourth in the Northern 3A.

Churchill County, the defending state champion, is first at 8-0. Fernley (7-1) is second and Spring Creek (6-2) is third. Elko (4-4) is fifth.

The top six teams in the league advance to the regional tournament in Elko. The top two teams receive first-round byes.

Lowry looks to get back on the winning track this weekend on the road. Lowry faces Dayton on Friday at 6 p.m. and South Tahoe on Saturday at 1 p.m.