JAY — Spruce Mountain’s pesky defense and many fruitful trips to the foul line served as a work-around against Hall-Dale’s height in a Mountain Valley Conference girls basketball game Saturday.

The Phoenix’s defense never let up in the fourth quarter, allowing the Phoenix to open up a big lead on their way to a 56-42 victory to settle the showdown between the two unbeaten teams before a packed crowd at the raucous Nest at Spruce Mountain High School.

Spruce Mountain junior guard Jaydn Pingree hit two 3-pointers, went 8 for 10 from the free throw line and collected 30 points. For Hall-Dale, Hayden Madore led the team with 17 points.

“I think we score a lot points that you can forget the fact that we are pretty elite, defensively,” Spruce Mountain coach Zach Keene said. “We were adamant going into the game (that we are going to win the game defending and rebounding) … I think that’s what we did.

“To hold them — I think they are averaging 70 points a night — we held them to 42, something like that. That’s what we were looking to do. I knew we could do that. It was just of matter of coming out doing, and we did.”

The pushing and shoving began right after the tip-off to begin the first quarter and the physicality remained intense the entire game.


The Bulldogs (7-1), the reigning Class C champions, used their height to their advantage early, with 6-foot KJ Greenhalgh scoring six points and Maria Benoit and Madore helping out with four apiece in the opening quarter. But Spruce’s defense was fierce and made it a neck-and-neck race right up until the second quarter. Senior guard Mariyah Fournier contributed four points on two drives to the net for the Phoenix, but Hall-Dale held on to a 16-14 lead after one.

“It took us a little longer settling into the game,” Keene said. “But once we settled in, I knew we were going to get our looks. We have too many good basketball players to not get the looks we wanted to get.

“A lot of people around state understand who Hall-Dale is, and I think maybe this game shocked some people, but it didn’t shock anybody in our locker room. I know that.”

Pingree was fearless going to the net, despite continually getting knocked around during the game.

“If I play the way I play, it determines how like my … team plays,” Pingree said. “Like if I have a bad attitude, they will have a bad attitude. So I have to stay positive for my team.”

Pingree knew it would take a tall order to beat the Bulldogs because of their height and skill.


“I feel like we were more of a team,” she said. “We came together. Our communication is how we won. I am just very proud of my team.”

Even though the Phoenix (10-0) struggled with their shooting in the second quarter, their defense continued to annoy the Bulldogs.

Spruce generated points by continuing to drive to the net and scoring at the foul line. Pingree hit four foul shots and scored six points and teammate Aubrey Kachnovich scored five, providing the Phoenix with a 25-16 heading into halftime.

“I think we did really good stopping their best players ,and we really worked hard to stop them,” Kachnovich, a junior guard, said. “Yes, it was a physical game. It think we are doing really well this year. We are going to take it very far into the playoffs.

“I just think my team worked really hard tonight (to) take the win that we did. We came out the second half really strong.”

Spruce opened up a 34-22 lead early in the third quarter as its defense broke down Hall-Dale’s offense. Pingree scored back-to-back baskets to push the lead to 38-24 with 3:46 midway through the period.

But Hall-Dale battled back and cut the deficit to 38-32 with less than two minutes remaining in the third. Emily Dubord hit a pair of foul shots to give Spruce a 42-34 lead heading the final frame.

“Their defense is good. That’s a solid basketball team all the way around,” Hall-Dale coach OJ Jaranillo said. “We have a lot of history with them. I think we had some shots that would typically fall for us. They didn’t fall. I think the girls got down on themselves a little bit.

“We’re a young team, first time in this environment with this kind of a crowd. I think you could see the deer in the headlights a little bit. It was good for them. I hate to say a loss is good, but hopefully it helps us prepare for when we get to the August Civic Center.”

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