Spruce Mountain defenders Aubrey Kachnovich, left, and Elizabeth Grondin trap Carrabec’s Aliyah Grunder, forcing her to turn the ball over during the first half of Tuesday’s game in Jay. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

JAY — There were subtle hints toward the tail end of the first half Tuesday that Spruce Mountain’s momentum was building.

Spruce Mountain’s Abby Ortiz, left and Carrabec’s Brooke Welch battle for a loose ball during the first half of Tuesday night’s game in Jay. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

It was a quiet night in The Nest, which was devoid of a screaming fans, but that didn’t stop the Phoenix from opening up on Carrabec in the third quarter and eventually carrying off a 50-43 girls basketball victory over the stubborn Cobras in Spruce’s season opener.

By the end of third stanza, the Phoenix were breathing easier, knowing they were holding a 40-25 lead heading into the final quarter.

The resilient Cobras began eating away at Spruce’s 46-38 lead with 5:13 left in the game. Carrabec climbed within five points with nearly 40 seconds left before the Phoenix’s leading scorer and point guard, freshman Jaydyn Pingree, sank a pair of free-throws with about 25 seconds left on the clock.

The Phoenix, under instruction from coach Zach Keene, used their defense to slow the Cobras in the crucial final two minutes of the game. 

“It was a situation I thought we could use to learn a little bit,” Keene said. “That’s what we kind of use it for. There were spurts that we were great defensively when we were in our three-quarter-court pressure. We were active, overwhelming them, pressuring them.

“Then there were some times in the halfcourt man(-to-man defense) that we let down, and that’s where we have to get better. But as a whole, defensively, we did a pretty good job. First game — I know they are excited.”

Pingree finished with a team-high 17 points, despite her feeling some opening-game jitters.

“I was a little nervous at the beginning, but then I just got into it,” she said.

Spruce Mountain’s Mariyah Fournier, center, gets trapped by Carrabec’s Courtney Rollins, left, and Sarah Olson, right, during Tuesday’s game in Jay. Fournier managed to pass the ball to an open teammate for an easy two points. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Sophomore guard Mariyah Fournier turned in 11 points with her fearless drives to the net.

“I know I am just a strong competitor and I can bring the ball when I want to,” Fournier said. “I think (Carrabec) is a really good team. They pass really well and I think we knew that, and we had to bring it to them.”

Lindsay Hamilton helped out the Cobras’ cause with a team-leading 12 points.

Carrabec stayed on the Phoenix’s heels in the first quarter, during which Spruce worked hard to build 13-11 lead. The Cobras demonstrated their tenacity again in the final quarter.

“Well, we hit some shots, which was good,” Carrabec coach Skip Rugh said. “We struggled to get down into our offense, but when we could run our offense, we got the open looks and things went well.

“They played great pressure defense, and we struggled with that tonight. But with 10 days of nothing and this is the first time back, we didn’t have the chance to work on anything … but they did well.”

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