Spruce Mountain’s Bradley Shamba (0) and Lisbon’s Levi Tibbetts (34) vie for the basketball in Lisbon on Thursday night. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LISBON — Spruce Mountain has developed a habit of grinding out wins in tight games this season.

The Phoenix continued that trend Thursday when they shook of a fast-and-furious Lisbon team with a 43-35 boys basketball victory. It was the Greyhounds’ first game of the season, but they hardly looked rusty.

Spruce Mountain coach Scott Bessey said the Phoenix are still searching for an identity. They seemed to find it in a hotly-contested fourth quarter.

“I think that’s the type of team we are going to have this year, where there is going to be low scoring,” Bessey said. “We are going to struggle to score for long stretches. We just got to grind them out.”

Bessey lauded Lisbon’s performance, especially with their limited court time this winter.

“I think Lisbon is a really good team — really good physical team,” Bessey said. “I know this is their first game … and I am extremely impressed with how good they played, with this being their first game and with maybe a week or so of practices.

“We are 3-1 and still trying to find our identity. Offensively, it is a struggle at times, but we work hard and we have got good depth.”

Spruce Mountain’s Camden Phillips (11) tries to keep Lisbon’s Caden Boone (2) from scoring in basketball game in Lisbon on Thursday night. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The Phoenix were holding on to a narrow 30-29 lead heading into the final stanza, and both teams struggled to score a basket in the first three minutes. Spruce’s Camden Phillips (eight points) broke the ice with his basket with 5:08 left in the game.

The action went back and fourth for the next couple of minutes until Ian York’s 3-pointer made it a 35-31 lead and inspired the Phoenix with 3:40 left. Spruce added to their lead, running it up to 41-33 with 1:40 left to play.

Spruce Mountain held Lisbon to just six points in the crucial final quarter.

Bradley Shamba led the Phoenix with 10 points and earned his keep under the boards. Levi Tibbetts also scored 10 to lead Lisbon.

“I was just getting my team going. That’s why we won,” Shamba said. “Just decided to get us going. We had to hustle to get the win. They are a pretty good for not playing a game at all this season, and we came out slacking, thinking we were just going to beat them. We competed and they competed, too.”

It was nip-and-tuck for the entire first half, with the Phoenix finding their way back after the Greyhounds dominated the first quarter. By halftime, Spruce had built a 22-18 lead.

Lisbon’s Neil LaRochelle drives toward the key in a basketball game against Spruce Mountain in Lisbon on Thursday night. Tony Blasi/Sun journal Buy this Photo

“The first quarter was great for us offensively, probably better than we expected,” Lisbon coach Jake Gentle said. “The second quarter we scored only six points. We had some looks inside and some looks outside. They just didn’t fall for us.

“I thought Spruce Mountain did a great job controlling the boards. They did a great job defensively on us. They really pressured every one of our shots. You have to give them credit for that.”

Gentle added that he was proud of the Greyhounds’ third-quarter performance before they sputtered in the fourth.

“The fourth quarter — we are just not there, yet,” he said. “I think we just kind of ran out of a little bit of gas, and Spruce is a tough team. They are well-coached. They really controlled things the fourth quarter. They made the baskets down the stretch.”

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