Basketball: Yarmouth brings down Spruce Mountain

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PORTLAND — Spruce Mountain couldn’t measure the surroundings of the Cumberland  County Civic Center or the quickness and athleticism of Yarmouth until it stepped on the floor for  Thursday night’s Western Class B semifinal.

The Phoenix got the full measure of both before they could catch their breath, and neither was to their liking.

Yarmouth went on a 15-0 streak to start the game and kept Spruce Mountain from ever making a serious run in a 60-30 victory.

No. 3 Yarmouth (16-4) will face No. 1 Falmouth for the regional title Saturday. No. 2 Spruce Mountain finishes its season at 18-2.

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“I think we were definitely overwhelmed a little bit by the environment, but I think that also had a lot to do with Yarmouth,” Spruce Mountain coach Chris Bessey said. “They’re a very good team. They’re big, they’re athletic and they’re long. I think that overwhelmed us a little bit with the speed and the aggressiveness that they play with.”

Yarmouth’s Sam Torres led all scorers with 18 points while Josh Britten added 15. James Barker led Spruce Mountain with 11 points and Jake Bessey chipped in with 10.

Nate Shields-Auble started the run with a putback on Yarmouth’s first possession. Spruce’s turnovers matched the number of shots it would eventually take in the quarter (six) just three minutes into the game.

The Phoenix finished the quarter with 11 turnovers, many unforced, but some due to Yarmouth’s pressure in the backcourt and on the perimeter.

“I was hoping we’d get a fast  start. I never anticipated anything like that,” Yarmouth coach Adam Smith said.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Britten and Chris Knaub made it 15-0 with 3:32 left in the first quarter.

The Phoenix were able to trim that deficit to single digits by the end of the quarter. Zach Bonnevie found a cutting Bessey to finally get them on the board with 1:47 left in the quarter. Bessey added a 3-pointer and Barker a free throw to make it 15-6.

Yarmouth kept the pressure on with the first three baskets of the second quarter, the most impressive being an reverse layup by Torres that made it 21-6. Shields-Auble increased that margin to 18 with a putback. A hoop by Barker and single free throws by Barker and Shink made it 28-14 at intermission.

Britten greeted the second half with a 3-pointer on Yarmouth’s first possession, then fed Torres for back-to-back fast break layups that made it 35-16.

“We run the floor very well,” Smith said. “When (Torres) saw the opportunity, I thought he got down the floor extremely well tonight.”

“It’s still within reach at the half, but you’ve got to pick up the tempo a little bit to make a comeback and it snowballed right into their hands,” Chris Bessey said.

Barker scored inside to pull the Phoenix within 15, but that was as close as they would get. Adam LaBrie made a pair of layup to regain the 19-point cushion, which quickly went into the 20s.

“I think 18 wins, winning a playoff game against a Western Maine Conference team (Wells) that we’re not supposed to be able to compete with, that’s huge,” Chris Bessey said. “I think that speaks volumes for our seniors that committed themselves during the summer. I told them the 18-win mark is going to be a mark that the Spruce Mountain program is going to be chasing for a long time.”

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