Spruce Mountain’s Jaydn Pingree hugs her sister and teammate, Jazmine (foreground), after Jaydn scored the 1,000th point of her career with 46 seconds left in the first half of Friday’s game against Madison in Jay. Also at center court are brother Grayson Hodgkins, mother Angela Hodgkins and step-father Dave Hodgkins. Lee Horton/Sun Journal

JAY — Just as important as Jaydn Pingree’s contribution was Spruce Mountain’s play without her during a key stretch in the fourth quarter of Friday’s 52-43 girls basketball win over Madison.

Pingree scored the 1,000th point of her career in the second quarter and became the program’s all-time leading scorer in the fourth.

“It’s something I’ve always dreamed of,” Pingree said. “I mean, I couldn’t have done it without my team, especially my senior class. It was basically my 1,000 points and theirs. They helped me achieve this goal.”

Earlier in the final period, Pingree was called for her fourth foul, forcing her to the bench with 6:29 remaining in the game and the Phoenix (14-2) grasping to a 39-36 lead.

During the one minute and 45 seconds she was out of the game, Spruce Mountain’s lead grew to 43-37.

“We have a lot of really good players, we’re not just Jaydn,” Phoenix coach Zach Keene said. “So when we go to the bench with Riley (Small) and Mary (Hamblin) and Maddie (Grimaldi), Natasha (McDonald), like, we have really good players there, too.

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“So I feel comfortable in those situations, as crazy as it sounds, because I know how many good, capable players, and experienced players that we have.”

Pingree’s twin sister Jazmine, who also had four fouls, scored all four of the Phoenix’s points, a three-point play and another free throw, while the defense held the Bulldogs to one point.

“Just continuing to play and not really worrying about what happened previously or the possession before,” Spruce Mountain coach Zach Keene said was the difference down the stretch. “We had to rebound the basketball. Every time we started rebounding the basketball, we’d go on a run. When we started giving up offensive rebounds, they’d go on a run.

“It’s one of those things, we just had to home in on take care of the basketball, rebound the basketball. We did just enough, just enough to get it done.”

When she checked back into the game, Jaydn Pingree helped Spruce Mountain pull away, scoring six of her game-high 19 points and setting up Aubrey Kachnovich for a basket that put Spruce up by 10 points, 47-37, near the halfway point of the fourth.

The closest Madison (13-2) got was six points the remainder of the contest.

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“At first we struggled a lot. I think we were focused on other things, especially my 1,000 points,” Jaydn Pingree said, “but in the second half we came together as a team and pulled together, and our energy was better.”

Jaydn Pingree entered the game 11 points from 1,000 in her career. She wasn’t forcing shots, in fact she even passed up a few to set up teammates for better scoring opportunities.

“It was only 11 points, I knew that I was going to end up getting it no matter what, so I just wanted to make sure I had the right baskets and passes and all that before I got my 1,000 points,” she said.

Pingree was limited mostly to free throws in the first half, and it was a foul shot with 46 seconds remaining that gave her 1,000.

The game was stopped to honor Pingree’s accomplishment. First her teammates mobbed her and gave her hugs, then her family. She also was joined on the court by some of the Jay/Livermore Falls/Spruce Mountain girls basketball program’s other 1,000 point scorers, including Alex Bessey, the most recent 1,000-point scorer who currently coaches at Mt. Blue, Jane DiPompo (formerly Jane Hamel) and Tanya Demillo, representing her daughter, Kaylie, who reached 1,000 points in 2007.

“It was a pretty cool experience, honestly,” Jaydn Pingree said. “Growing up, I’ve always wanted to reach this goal. And for them to come here and support me is pretty nice.”

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The Phoenix seized control in the latter half of the first quarter, scoring 13 of the period’s final 16 points to take a 19-7 advantage into the second.

Their lead grew to 22-7, but Madison began battling its way back. The Bulldogs, who were coming off their first loss of the season earlier this week, scored seven straight points and finished the half on a 16-4 run.

“The girls, they started to believe,” Madison coach Adam Rich said. “We had a tough game last time with Hall-Dale, and we came back into this one with no fear, and we just played hard the entire time.

“If we keep going at people and going at people, it’s one of those things we can get some turnovers and get some quick buckets, and the momentum starts to change.”

Pingree’s milestone free throw put the Phoenix up 26-20, but Madison’s Mackenzie Robbins drained a 3-pointer to send the game into half with the score at 26-23.

The Bulldogs took their first lead since the early minutes of the first when Raegan Cowen stole the ball and raced down the court for a layup, and then Robbins added a basket to push Madison’s lead to three points, 34-31.

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“They played hard, which we expected,” Keene said. “And there was a lot of moments we didn’t really match the intensity that they were playing with. For the majority of the night, I would say we did, but the moments we didn’t they really took advantage of.

“And they’re also really good. They’re a really good team.”

Spruce Mountain freshman Maddie Grimaldi quickly responded with a 3 at the other end to tie the game and kick-start an 8-0 Phoenix run that included a putback by Jaydn Pingree and a 3-pointer by Jazmine Pingree, giving them a 39-34 lead after three quarters.

Ten of Jaydn Pingree’s 19 points came at the free-throw line, from which she shot 10 of 15. With 1:12 left in the game, her 10th free throw made her Spruce Mountain’s all-time leading scorer. She added another basket that puts her at 1,008 points.

“She’s very sneaky,” Rich said. “She’s got that nice spin move, and she creates contact and she gets to the free-throw line, and she’s a great free throw shooter. So you have to be aware. We did a couple good plays, we got a couple charges, but she’s got a great basketball IQ.

“It’s great to see kids get 1,000 points, and she’s a great player. Kudos to her.”

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Rich credited Spruce Mountain’s execution at the end of the game for its victory, which is the Phoenix’s ninth in a row.

“Well, I think we kind or ran out of gas towards the end,” Rich said. “But I’ll give them credit, they executed down the stretch, we missed a couple key shots, we didn’t shoot the free throws very well tonight. So a lot of that’s what kind of factored in to that.

“But, credit to them at the end of the game, because I think that’s the difference, they just executed better.”

Madison went 6 of 22 at the free-throw line, while Spruce Mountain made 15 of 23.

Jaydn Pingree also pulled down seven rebounds and made three steals. Jazmine Pingree finished with 16 points and three steals, Grimaldi made two treys and scored eight points and Kachnovich contributed six.

Jacey Moody was Madison’s top scorer with 12 points. She also grabbed 12 rebounds.

Rebounding was key for the Bulldogs throughout the game. Along with Moody’s dozen, Elizabeth Kelley had seven and Cowen had five.

“They’re a really great team, and really physical,” Rich said of the Phoenix. “So we just got to spots before they did.”

Cowen and Robbins each scored 11 points for Madison.

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