AUBURN — In the first couple of outings this season, their offense has been a bit fashionably late.

The Spruce Mountain girls’ basketball team has opened games with some solid defensive play, but the offensive execution has felt a little tardy.

“We’ve actually had a couple of slow starts in the first two games,” said Spruce Mountain coach Gavin Kane. “So the emphasis for our kids was to get after it early.”

Friday night, the Phoenix offense was right on time. Spruce Mountain stymied St. Dom’s with its defense and built an early lead with the offense that led to a 52-26 win.

It was a battle of two unbeaten teams in the Mountain Valley Conference.

“Everybody was really hyped up for this game, especially with the boys’ game and so much commotion,” said junior center Samantha Richards, whose team watched the Phoenix boys win an emotional battle prior to the girls’ tip-off. “We were really focused and ready to come out and play.”


The Phoenix (3-0) opened the game with 12 straight points. The Saints didn’t scored until 3:35 remained in the first quarter. St. Dom’s was plagued by eight turnovers in the quarter, including five in the first two-plus minutes.

“I thought we played great on the defensive end, but I was incredibly pleased with the number of passes we made in that first half,” said Kane. “We played very unselfishly. I told them at halftime that its fun to watch them when they play that way.”

Richards led the Phoenix with 15 points, six rebounds and four steals. Emily Keened added 10 points while Emily Hogan added nine, coming off the bench.

St. Dom’s (3-1) got 13 from Faith Grady. Kelly Pomerleau, the leading scorer in the MVC last year, was held to just two points and two free throws in the fourth quarter.

“We got into a little bit of foul trouble,” said St. Dom’s coach Jon Berry, whose team only had nine players and had Pomerleau and Bryanna Handlon nursing three fouls each by halftime. “When you have the numbers we have and foul trouble and you’re up against a really good team, it’s an uphill battle.”

Keene opened the game with a 3. Then Richards followed with a short jumper and scored in the paint. After a Vanese Barnes three-point play off a rebound, Keene scored on a drive to make it 12-0.


St. Dom’s finished the quarter with a 6-2 run, led by four points by Grady. The Phoenix then opened the second quarter with an 8-2 surge. The Saints had 11 turnovers in the quarter including three 10-second violations in the backcourt.

The Phoenix hit nine of its first 10 shots and had the lead up to 38-18 by halftime.

“They shot well in the first half,” Berry said. “That’s not usually what you expect. You expect them to play great defense but you don’t expect the shooting too. They hit a lot of different types of shots. They put a great half together.”

Richards scored the first basket of the second quarter. After a Grady drive, Richards fed Hogan for a basket. Keene then converted a Kailee Newcomb pass. Newcomb followed with two free throws for a 22-8 lead.

After a Callie Greco basket and free throw by Grady, the Phoenix scored six straight and produced a 14-3 run to make it 36-14. Hogan had all nine of her points in the second quarter.

“I’m very pleased with our ball movement offensively,” Kane said. “That was as well as we have done that so far in the regular season. I thought we did a lot of good things tonight.”


Amia Pelletier, Amanda Castonguay, Ladesta Tracy and Alex Bessey all came off the bench in the first half and maintained the Phoenix solid play. Bessey also had six rebounds.

“(Richards) had 15 points and was active on the boards,” Kane said. “I was pleased to see that. That’s an area of the game we want to improve on. I thought Sam gave us some good activity there, and Alex came off the bench and rebounded well for us from the guard position.”

St. Dom’s was held to just eight total points in the second half. Spruce Mountain had the lead up to 49-22 after three quarters. Richards had seven points in the third.

“It was definitely the passing from the wings,” said Richards. “People pass it two or three times and end up getting a nice layup. I think that unselfishness makes us a good team.”

The Phoenix had no seniors last year and return a lineup that won the MVC title and went 18-0 in the regular season. That experience showed in producing a balanced attack and working well together.

“I think that’s why we should be pretty successful this year,” Richards said. “We don’t have one player that you can stop. The whole team contributes. Even players off the bench are ready to come in and do their job.”

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