Hornets’ nest intact: Leavitt bounces Spruce Mountain

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PORTLAND — The one thing both Leavitt and Spruce Mountain wanted to do Tuesday night was be themselves.

The defending state champs wanted to be their run-and-gun selves and put up points at a dizzying pace.

The Phoenix wanted to be stingy and present a smothering defensive effort that would squeeze the life out of most offenses.

Both were not going to have their way in Tuesday’s Western B quarterfinal, and it was the Hornets that resembled themselves in a 72-59 win. Leavitt advances to Thursday’s semifinal at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

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“I have a lot of respect for (Spruce Mountain coach) Gavin (Kane) and what he’s done for women’s basketball,” said Leavitt coach Tammy Anderson. “The big thing was that we wanted to establish what we do well and establish it early.”

Leavitt opened an early lead in the first quarter and then got things rolling in the second quarter. The Phoenix just couldn’t keep pace.

“You have to tip your hat to their team and their coaching staff,” said Kane. “They came out and certainly were the aggressors from the get-go.”

Kristen Anderson led Leavitt (17-2) with 28 points while Adrie Newton added 20. Sarah Frost chipped in eight. Spruce Mountain got 16 from Kathryn Ventrella and 10 from Samantha Richards.

Spruce Mountain had some success early in what it wanted to do. Both Anderson and Newton picked up two fouls early. The Phoenix also did a nice job taking away the clean outside shot for Anderson. Leavitt also had seven turnovers in the first quarter.

“There were some things we did well,” said Kane. “We forced Kristen to work hard in that first half and take the tough shot.”

Spruce Mountain, however, also struggled against the Leavitt defense. The Phoenix turned the ball over 20 times in the first half and shot just 2-for-10 in the first quarter.

“I thought we shot ourselves in the foot by giving up offensive rebounds and easy putbacks,” said Kane. “We let up some easy transition baskets. We gave up the ball 20 times in the first half. We knew coming in we had to handle the press and we didn’t do a good job of that.”

Though Leavitt wasn’t hitting from the outside, Anderson did a nice job taking the ball in for a short shot or drawing fouls.

“I knew if I could get to the inside, I could get some fouls,” said Kristen Anderson, whose been battling an illness the last few days.  “I’ve been doing well at the foul line.”

Leavitt also did a nice job getting contributions around the roster. Mariah Treadwell, who held Ventrella scoreless in the first half, scored six. Amanda Jordan and Kelly Pomerleau also chipped in.

“We got some good contributions tonight,” said Tammy Anderson. “I think we do that when we run the floor. As long as we can run the floor, we feel comfortable and the kids are really starting to see their lanes.”

Anderson free throws in the first opened up a small lead but it was a pair of baskets inside by Frost that opened it up to 12-7. Then a Newton basket made it 14-7 before an Alexi Deering free throw cut it to 14-8 after the first.

“Going into the game, we just wanted to get the pressure on them and get them all chaotic and get some turnovers,” said Kristen Anderson.

Leavitt started the second hitting six of its first seven shots and opened the lead for good.

After a Richards basket inside made it 19-11, Leavitt ran off eight straight. Anderson scored on a drive and then finished off a press breaker. Treadwell took a Pomerleau pass on a backdoor move and Newton finished off an Anderson feed to make it 27-11.

Spruce Mountain (16-2)  got a Richards basket and a 3 from Newcomb cut it to 29-18 but Newton and Frost finished the quarter off with back-to-back baskets to make it 37-23 at the half.

Anderson and Newton combined for 18 points in the third quarter as Leavitt extended the lead to 61-38.

“We did OK on the defensive side,” said Tammy Anderson. “Offensively we struggled a little bit early. I kept telling them before the game that I didn’t care what we did offensively if we were doing great defensively, we’d be alright.”

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