RUMFORD — Spruce Mountain’s suffocating defense held Mountain Valley to one point in the second quarter and three in the fourth as the Phoenix ran away with a 44-18 road victory in MVC girls basketball Wednesday night.

After holding the Falcons (6-2) to just a point in the second quarter to grow its lead to 15 points at the half, 22-7, Spruce Mountain kept the pressure up in the third.

The Phoenix (6-2) kept up a full-court press for much of the game and were able to force errant passes and turnovers throughout the contest.

Madison Dow of Mountain Valley drives to the hoop against Spruce Mountain on Wednesday. Adam Robinson/Sun Journal

“As a rule, that is our identity,” Spruce Mountain coach Zach Keene said. “We want the game to be fast, pressure people and push in transition. It’s been season-long and that was certainly the plan tonight, to speed them up. We scrambled a lot more, our effort was a lot better, the effort, enthusiasm, activity, I think they felt us. We pressured them for 32 minutes and a lot of teams can’t do that.”

Summer Chretien started the third for Spruce with a 3-pointer before a 3-pointer from Mountain Valley’s Autumn Freeman later brought the Falcons back within 25-11.

Freeman later had a steal and went to the hoop for the score to make it 27-15, but Spruce didn’t let the Falcons get much else going on offense.

“I think that their defensive intensity and discipline in the full court gave us fits,” Mountain Valley coach Craig Milledge said. “I think my girls played incredibly hard. They turned us over a bunch, but more than that is I didn’t prepare them enough for what happened and what they’d see. The reality is, we just talked, and we didn’t play well, but tonight needs to be a game where we learn and grow from it.”

Spruce’s Avery Bessey hit a floater in the lane over Mountain Valley forward Emily Richard with 10 seconds left in the quarter to give the Phoenix a 29-15 lead heading into the fourth.

Olivia Mastine hit back-to-back 3-pointers to begin the fourth and Jadyn Pingree made a crossover move that made her defender lose her balance before drilling a 3-pointer with 2:50 left that put Spruce up 40-16.

“We came in here with two losses in a row and we are just trying to get better all around as a team,” Jadyn Pingree said. “Communication, offense, defense, just trying to get it all together. Our communication has gotten a lot better.”

Spruce Mountain shot well throughout the game.

In the first quarter, Spruce Mountain got out to a 9-2 lead in the first four minutes thanks in part to Jazmine Pingree’s 3-pointer and Jadyn Pingree’s four points.

“I think it just makes everyone more confident and more happy and proud for our team,” Jazmine Pingree said of the team’s fast start.

In the final four minutes of the frame, Alana Young and Madison Dow scored layups for Mountain Valley to pull the Falcons within four points at the end of the quarter, 10-6.

The second quarter didn’t go as Mountain Valley had planned as the Falcons were outscored 12-1 in the period. Jazmine Pingree hit two free throws and a 3-pointer in the final two minutes to give the Phoenix a halftime cushion.

“We are trying to focus on moving the ball, making the right pass, attacking the paint and playing out from there,” Keene said. “When we started doing that, the shots started falling. I liked the pace we played at offensively, we just need to be more efficient and consistent in what we do.”

Mastine paced the Phoenix with 13 points, while Jazmine Pingree scored 10 and Jaydn Pingree added seven. The trio combined to convert six 3s, and Chretien added one as well.

“Our team has improved a lot,” Jadyn Pingree said. “We had goals coming into this one and we accomplished them.”

Freeman led Mountain Valley with seven points. The Falcons were held to six total made baskets.

Milledge said that Wednesday’s game is a learning experience for the Falcons.

“We have a tough schedule coming up and we need to prepare for what we saw tonight because it doesn’t get easier,” Milledge said. “With cancellations and the COVID stuff and weather, we are at 10 games in 22 days and that is something I’ve never seen. Hopefully we stay healthy and the COVID thing doesn’t hit us too hard. Depth helps, being able to go to the bench. And tonight, I had to ask some girls to play close to 32 minutes, and against a team like that it’s just not fair. We were mentally tough, we struggled to finish but they never broke, and they played hard until the very last second and that means a lot.”

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.