JAY — Leavitt scored in bunches Tuesday night against Spruce Mountain. The Hornets had scoring runs of six points and eight points in the first half, then finished the game on 5-0 run to finish off the Phoenix for a 41-34 victory in a KVAC girls’ basketball game at the Phoenix Dome.

The Phoenix (6-11) sandwiched a pair of baskets around a Chantel Eells 3-pointer for the Hornets (9-8) to give Spruce Mountain an early 4-3 lead.

Leavitt reeled off six-straight points to pull ahead, only for the Phoenix to tie the game up with a 5-0 run of their own. Then the Hornets ended the first quarter on a 5-0 run to take the lead for good.

“We’ve mostly been a second-half team,” Eells said. “These last few games we’ve come out from the beginning, which is nice.”

Both teams employed zone defenses from the onset, making shots hard to come by. Then Kassie Murch and Liz Goulette hit back-to-back 3s midway through the second quarter for Leavit to double up the Phoenix 22-11.

“It’s nice when you’re making shots. Not so nice when you’re not making shots,” Leavitt coach David Gerrish said. “I think we had some periods of time when we made some shots, we were able to open it up a little bit, and then get some stops on the other end. I think that kind of decided the game.”

Those consecutive triples pushed Leavitt’s biggest run of the game to 8-0, but freshman Haley Turcotte ended it for Spruce Mountain with a 3 of her own. Turcotte hit another with 45 seconds left in the half to cut the deficit to 24-19 before the Hornets made the final basket of the half.

“Leavitt’s a good team. They have size, and they have good guard play, so obviously they make it tough on anybody, just like they’ve proven all year,” Phoenix coach Chris Bessey said. “We struggle a little bit because we’re not very big, so that zone defense that they play just makes it hard to even get the ball inside.”

That size proved tough for the Phoenix on the other end of the court as well, with the Hornets grabbing a handful of offensive rebounds for second-chance points.

“We make rebounding important,” Gerrish said.

Spruce Mountain got a pair of its own offensive rebounds to open the second half, but couldn’t hit on any of its three shot attempts on its first possession.

A 3-pointer from Sophia Gilbert two minutes in gave Leavitt a 29-19 lead, but the Phoenix fought back behind three close-range baskets by Rylee Moore, who scored six of Spruce Mountain’s eight points in the third.

That was Moore’s most productive quarter on both ends of the court. She scored six of her 10 points in the third and held Eells sto her only scoreless period.

“Defensively I thought she played well the whole game,” Bessey said of Moore. “I think she frustrated Chantel a little bit inside. Then offensively at the end our guards were penetrating and dishing it off to her. It’s something we should have been doing the whole game.”

With the Hornets focusing on stopping Moore and Spruce Mountain’s drives to the hoops, that allowed Turcotte some open looks. She made good on two of those from behind the arc, pulling the Phoenix to within 35-33 with just over five minutes to play.

The teams traded off single free throws, then Leavitt finished off the game with the final five points.

“I thought our kids played with really great poise today,” Gerrish said. “We just came down the court and made some good plays and made some good decisions.”

Eells and Goulette combined to go 6 for 8 from the foul line in the fourth to seal the victory.

“It was a pretty big win,” Eells said. “Our last game just bumped us into playoffs, so we’re really excited about that. I haven’t been to the playoffs since my freshman year.”

Eells tallied a team-high 13 points for the Hornets. Gilbert and Goulette added 11 and 10, respectively.

Turcotte had a game-high 14, including four 3s. Moore pitched in with 10, and Emily Hogan seven for the Phoenix, who were in must-win mode Tuesday night.

“It kept us alive. We still needed a lot of help for us to make it (into the playoffs) even with a win,” Bessey said. “This, I guess, takes the waiting away.”

Spruce Mountain closes out its season at home Thursday against Maine Central Institute. Leavitt hosts Oxford Hills in its regular-season finale the same night.

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