YARMOUTH — Spruce Mountain got a lot out of its trip south Monday evening, but the Phoenix couldn’t quite hold on and earn a boys basketball victory at the red-hot Yarmouth Clippers.

These Clippers simply refuse to lose at Stroud Gymnasium.

Spruce Mountain was clinging to a one-point lead with just over three minutes to play, but Yarmouth closed the game on a 12-2 run – highlighted by two 3-pointers from junior point guard Matt Gautreau and a game-sealing dunk from Evan Hamm – to prevail, 47-38.

The Clippers, who got 14 points apiece from Hamm and Walsh, won their sixth game in a row and stayed unbeaten at home, improving to 10-4 overall and picking up some critical Heal points in the process.

“It was just heart and desire,” said Ilunga Mutombo, Yarmouth’s first-year coach. “The guys just looked for the best shot.”

Spruce Mountain (11-3) started strong, scoring seven straight points after Clippers sharpshooter Stevie Walsh made a 3-pointer to start the game, and led 9-7 after one quarter.


But Yarmouth began to heat up from the outside in the second period as Hamm put the Clippers ahead, then Walsh made consecutive 3-pointers before scoring on a runner just before the horn to make it 22-17 Yarmouth at halftime.

When Gautreau made a 3-pointer and Liam Hickey added a jumper, the Clippers were up 29-22 late in the third period, but the Phoenix didn’t buckle. Jace Bessey hit a 3-pointer, and layups from Elie Timler and Ian York tied the score before a Hamm buzzer-beater gave Yarmouth a slim 31-29 advantage heading to the fourth period.

There, Lucas Towers drove for a layup in traffic with 4:01 to go and Spruce Mountain had a 36-35 lead, but the Clippers saved their best for last.

A minute later, junior reserve Jonny Fulton set up Hamm for a layup and the game’s eighth and final lead change.

After successive Phoenix turnovers, Gautreau buried long-range 3s for some breathing room.

“At that point, it was just me and the hoop and I just shot,” said Gautreau.


After York got two points back for Spruce Mountain, Hamm made a layup and then produced the punctuation mark, a dunk to finish it off.

“I was just thinking I was close enough and I hadn’t dunked in a little while, so I went for it,” said Hamm, who also had six rebounds, five assists and helped hold Bessey in check.

“We ask Evan to do a lot,” added Mutombo. “We ask him to play ‘5,’ to play the ‘1,’and always guard the opponent’s best player. He’s committed to helping the team out.”

Walsh added 11 points for Yarmouth.

Bessey paced Spruce Mountain with 15 points.

“What a great experience to be able to step outside the (Mountain Valley Conference),” said Phoenix coach Scott Bessey. “But we’re not a program that’s into moral victories. This is going to sting for tonight and we’ll regroup. We wanted to win and prepared to win, but Yarmouth’s just a good team and the margin of error is so small against them.”

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