Boys’ Basketball: Dirigo back on track; stops Spruce Mountain streak at six

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The Cougars pulled together to turn up the tempo in the middle quarters, when Robbie Babb and Riley Robinson each scored a majority of their 13 points to break open a double-digit cushion.

Dirigo then fended off a late Spruce Mountain charge en route to a 56-49 triumph.

The Phoenix were led by guard Nate Hamblin with 10 points and John McKenna. Each scored a basket and three pointer in the final minute to make it a two-possession game.

“My kids definitely battled,” Spruce Mountain coach Chris Bessey said.

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The Phoenix shot 31 percent, including seven of 23 from beyond the arc.

“But the biggest difference was on the free throw line (50 attempts to 19),” Bessey added. “(That makes it) hard to win a game, especially on the road.”

Dirigo (14-1) made 26 of 50, to 10 of 19 for the Phoenix (10-5).

Dirigo was anxious to get back on track after suffering the loss at Boothbay.

The Phoenix presented a challenge because they had knocked the Cougars from the unbeaten ranks 46-41 in the 2012 regular-season finale at Jay.

“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 (Travis Magnusson) drew up somee good plays that we were able to take advantage of.”

There were a bundle of Heal Points on tap, with Dirigo  ranked No. 3 in Class C and Spruce Mountain (10-5) fifth in Class B.

The loss snapped a six-game win streak for the Phoenix.

Spruce Mountain cut the deficit to 52-42 on a Tyler Kachnovich trey with 3:21 left to play.

Following a Cougars offensive foul, Peter Theriault made two free throws. The Phoenix regained possession of the ball again but were called for an illegal screen.

“Free throws were certainly key for us,” said Robinson, who made three of four to give Dirigo a 56-46 edge.

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 pulled down five.

Early in the third quarter, Spruce Mountain pulled to within 34-24 on a Theriault steal and fastbreak basket. But the momentum changed when the Phoenix were whistled for the first of three technical fouls.

Dirigo 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.

“We had to switch to a zone in order to protect our guys in foul trouble,” Bessey said. “But we are a young team and I proud of them for having played a tough game on the road and still have a chance in the end.”

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 shot 42 percent and had a season-high 29 turnovers.

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