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Unbeaten Phoenix down Lady Cougars
DIXFIELD -- The Dirigo girls' basketball team found out firsthand the importance of being able to start fast because it fell behind and wasn't able to recover in a MVC game.
The pressure defense simply proved to be too much as Spruce Mountain jumped ahead early and received balanced inside scoring in a 44-28 win against Dirigo at Defoe Gymnasium.
The Cougars were overwhelmed by the unbeaten Phoenix, who forced three turnovers on the first three possessions of the game and converted them into fastbreak baskets.
The scoreboard showed 10-0 before Kelsey Hutchins (seven points) made a pair of free throws. The Cougars committed 10 turnovers and made two of nine shots in the first quarter.
“We had talked about how important it was to start fast,” said SM coach Gavin Kane. “We told the girls that we needed to jump on Dirigo and not allow them to gain any momentum.”
Dirigo didn't go away and stayed within striking distance throughout a majority of the second quarter. A Hutchins basket and two free throws by Kayla Gaudin (four points), followed by two baskets by Lauren Henderson had pulled the Cougars to within 10 points on two occasions.
Each team had scored 14 points, excluding the start, until SM put in the final three to lead 27-14 at halftime.
“We came out and they got us a little panicky,” said Dirigo coach Reggie Weston. “We tried to calm them down. We usually handle the pressure quite well.’’
Spruce Mountain fed the ball inside to Vanese Barnes (11 points, seven rebounds), Nicole Hamblin (10 points) and Samantha Richards with nine.
Lexi Noyes drained a trey to begin the third quarter, but Dirigo was again held in check until Jessica Conant (four points) made a basket four minutes later. The Cougars made one of 14 shots from beyond the arc, nine of 45 two-point shots and trailed 34-20 after three quarters.
The Cougars shuffled players in and out in an attempt to find the right combination. Hutchins made two of four throws early in the fourth quarter, but the Cougars were held without a field goal until Emma Leuders went coast-to-coast and scored. Sabrina Daoud and Gretchen Bradbury added points. Spruce Mountain shot 32 percent, had 24 turnovers and made 14 of 20 free throws.