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Free throws help Dirigo to down Spruce
DIXFIELD --A dose of reality turned into a positive for the Dirigo boys' basketball team.
The Cougars pulled together to turn up the tempo in the middle quarters as Robbie Babb and Riley Robinson each scored 13 points to break open a double-digit cushion and then had to fend off a charge en route to a 56-49 triumph against Spruce Mountain.
The Phoenix Nate Hamblin (10 points) and John McKenna each scored in final minute to make it a two possession game.
“My kids definitely battled,” said Spruce Mountain coach Chris Bessey. The Phoenix shot 31 percent, including seven of 23 from beyond the arc. “But the biggest difference was on free throws, 50 to 19, it is sure hard to win a game, especially on the road.”
Dirigo made 26 of 50 free throws, to the Phoenix 10 of 19.
Dirigo was anxious to get back on track after suffering its first loss of the season at Boothbay.
"In the second half, they switched to a match-up zone," said Robinson, who made seven of the Cougars' 11 free throws in fourth quarter. ''We were patient with the ball, but coach drew up some good plays that we was able to take advantage of.''
Spruce Mountain had cut the deficit to 52-44 on Peter Theriault's two free throws. The Phoenix regained possession of the ball, but while running a play, was called for a illegal screen.
''Free throws were certainly key for us,'' said Robinson, who made three of four to lead 56-46.
The Cougars' T.J. Frost scored eight points and had four assists and four steals, while Hunter Ross was a stalwart defensively. Kaine Hutchins had eight rebounds, while Dylan kidder and Clay Swett each had five rebounds.
Early in the third quarter, Spruce Mountain had pulled to within 34-24 on a Theriault steal and fastbreak basket. But the momentum changed when the Phoenix was whistled for the first of three technical fouls. Dirigo simply took over by scoring five straight points -- including a Swett conventional three-point play. The Cougars led 44-31 at the end of the third quarter.
Following a first quarter that had six lead changes, Babb scored eight of the first nine points of the second quarter. Dirigo led 32-17 at halftime.
The Cougars, who shot 42 percent, had a season high 29 turnovers.