DIXFIELD — It was a run-and-gun affair from the get-go for undefeated foes Spruce Mountain and Dirigo before a standing-room only crowd at Defoe Gymnasium on Friday night.

The host Cougars never let up inside the key or from the perimeter and went on to sideswipe the Phoenix with a 68-41 victory in a Mountain Valley Conference boys basketball game.

Airick Richards led the Cougars with 15 points, Charlie Houghton scored 13 and Dirigo (6-0) knocked down 10 3-pointers for the night. Senior Dakota Tompkins was credited with 12 points.

“We’ve been wanting this for a long time,” Richards said. “We like each other off the court, but on the court… We had a lot of energy. We just had more heart and wanted it.

“I think (Spruce Mountain) is a decent team. If you shut down their shooters, then they really don’t have any other game plan. They are really good on defense, always energetic. I was hoping for it (to be) a little bit closer, to be honest. It is more fun, but I will take this.”

Ian York scored 10 points for Spruce Mountain (5-1), which delivered nine 3-pointers as a team.


Dirigo really revved up its game in the third quarter as Spruce Mountain struggled to score. With 3:31 remaining in the third, the Cougars must have been feeling pretty good with a 47-29 lead. The Cougars also kept hammering away with their 3-point shooting, too, and constructed a sturdy 57-29 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“We typically shoot the ball well,” Dirigo coach Cody St. Germain said. “At least this year, we have been shooting pretty consistently. It all starts with our ball movement. We talk about when we get open shots, and really work it around to get that open shot. We have five guys that can shoot the ball on the court at all times. That really helps us.

“When we get in trouble is when we start forcing shots that aren’t open. But we know if work it around eight, 1o seconds, we can usually get an open 3-pointer. … Having Charlie (Houghton) inside along with a couple of other guys that can score off post definitely opens up that inside-out game for us. I think we ran our defensive play really well.”

The first quarter featured a highly motivated Cougars jumping out to a quick lead. However, the Phoenix started chipping away and eventually came out ahead, 14-12, after eight minutes. The Phoenix tied it at 10-10 and Elie Timler put Spruce Mountain on top, 14-12, with a pair of free-throws as the teams headed into the second quarter.

The second quarter opened with both teams trading shots from the perimeter, which offered ample opportunity for any team to quickly get ahead. But the Phoenix had a costly lull late in the second quarter, allowing the Cougars to jump out to a 27-21 lead with less than four minutes left in the first half.

“Dirigo is really good,” Spruce Mountain coach Scott Bessey said. “(We) got our butts whipped a little bit. There is not much you can say to that. They got on a run in the second quarter. I think that is when the game got away from us, couldn’t get it back. (We) couldn’t rebound and turned the ball over. You are not going to win against a good team when you get out rebounded like we did and turn the ball over as much as we did.”

The Cougars took advantage of a sputtering Spruce Mountain squad and built an impressive lead. Houghton, a 6-foot-5 senior forward, hit a buzzer-beating layup and then hit a foul shot to put Dirigo ahead with a comfortable 35-22 lead heading into halftime.

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