JAY — When Spruce Mountain started rebounding and made the usual second-half adjustments, everything fell into place in that critical fourth quarter at The Nest on Wednesday night.

What they lacked in height, the Phoenix (4-3) made it up with their tenacious defense. When Spruce’s shots started falling, the Phoenix ended up choreographing a splendid 45-37 victory over the fierce Hall-Dale Bulldogs in a girls’ basketball game.

“Defensively, we made a couple adjustments and put a little more pressure on them — and I think that made a big difference,” Spruce Mountain coach Zachary Keene said. “The biggest thing is we started rebounding and we started pushing the ball, started pushing the ball and taking advantage of our athleticism and finally started making shots.

“That was the difference in the second half. We became more aggressive. The first half, we were very passive, offensively, but in second half, we were able to get more aggressive.”

The Phoenix and Bulldogs (2-4) were locked in a 28-28 tie going into the fourth quarter. Sophomore guard Jaycee Cole’s (8 points) 3-pointer early the final stanza helped trigger Spruce’s 17-point run.

Senior forwards Hailee Perkins helped out at the foul line with three of her team-high 12 points and Hanna St. Pierre scored five of her nine points in the fourth quarter.

“Perkins was huge. She was in foul trouble, though,” Keene pointed out. “Once she was in, she makes a huge difference. She’s a greater passer, rebounder for us.

“Jaycee Cole was great. Her poise as a sophomore. She played probably 30 minutes that game was great throughout. And Hanna St. Pierre was extremely effective as well on the boards, just her energy, her leadership. Those stood out to me and how the played.”

The Phoenix’s shooting at the foul line helped out, with Spruce going 9-for-16 at the charity stripe. Spruce Mountain knocked down a pair of 3-pointers but most of their baskets coming just outside the paint.

In the first half, the Bulldogs used their height advantage on the boards and constructed a slim 16-14 lead at halftime. Senior Sabrina Freeman threw in 11 points and 6-foot teammate Kat Kincaid tossed in 12 to help Hall-Dale’s cause.

“It’s the best effort we put out in a couple of weeks,” Hall-Dale coach Jarod Richmond said. “We had a rough go of it and we had some stretches when we had a chance to put the game away, then we missed some layups and some free throws.

“Those are just some of the fundamental things, but I thought we did a better of some of the stuff we needed to do a good job of tonight.

“Credit the Spruce. They made more plays, especially down the stretch … you gotta credit Spruce. They hung in there. They hung tough and they never quit and a good battle for them tonight.”

Hall-Dale’s Emily Allen (5), Amanda Benner (15) and Spruce Mountain’s Emily White (11) reach for a rebound as Kat Kincaid (35) watches the action in basketball game at the Phoenix Dome in Jay on Wednesday night.Hall-Dale’s Sabrina Freeman (20) and Spruce Mountain’s Jacyee Cole got up for a rebound in a basketball game in Jay on Wednesday night.Hall-Dale’s Sabrina Freeman (20) tries to keep the ball away from Spruce Mountain’s Hanna St. Pierre (25) and Morgan Dalton (12) in basketball game at the Phoenix Dome in Jay on Wednesday night.

Hall-Dale’s Emily Allen (5), Amanda Benner (15) and Spruce Mountain’s Emily White (11) reach for a rebound as Kat Kincaid (35) watches the action in basketball game at the Phoenix Dome in Jay on Wednesday night.

Hall-Dale’s Sabrina Freeman (20) and Spruce Mountain’s Jacyee Cole got up for a rebound in a basketball game in Jay on Wednesday night.

Hall-Dale’s Sabrina Freeman (20) tries to keep the ball away from Spruce Mountain’s Hanna St. Pierre (25) and Morgan Dalton (12) in basketball game at the Phoenix Dome in Jay on Wednesday night.


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