JAY — Spruce Mountain junior Avery Bessey said it best to the team’s five seniors: all good things must come to an end. For the Phoenix, a resounding 65-32 win over Winthrop on Monday was yet another good thing coming to an end as they near the playoffs.

“In my high school career, I’ve always wanted to do it,” Senior Jaydn Pingree said about the senior night tradition of taking her name plate off the gym wall. “When I was up there, just, it’s definitely different. It’s sad, we’ve been together forever.”

Spruce Mountain (15-2) maintained the lead over the Ramblers (11-6) the entire game. Coming off the high of scoring her 1,000th career point and breaking the school record for career scoring against Madison on Friday, Jaydn Pingree did the most damage on the scoreboard again, finishing with 24 points overall. Both she and her twin sister, Jazmine Pingree, are committed to play at the University of Southern Maine in the fall.

“My freshman year, my coach told me that I could reach 1,000 points and that we could get somewhere and get a gold ball,” Jaydn Pingree said. “It’s something I’ve literally dreamed about since I was a little kid and just all my dreams are coming true.”

Spruce Mountain coach Zach Keene called Jaydn Pingree the best basketball player Spruce Mountain has ever seen come through the program.

“She’s the best player in the conference, she’s the best player in the region and she should be a Miss Maine semifinalist,” Keene said. “She’s one of the best players in the state of Maine, and she matches that as the person that she is. She comes off as hard, she comes off as tough. She cares about her teammates and cares about doing well.”


Also standing out for Spruce Mountain was Aubrey Kachnovich, who tallied seven of the 11 first-quarter points for the Phoenix. Kachnovich will also continue her career after high school, committing to play at Husson University next year.

Keene called Kachnovich “everything you would dream about a player, to coach.” Kachnovich has been affiliated with the Spruce Mountain program since fifth grade.

“She’s a great athlete, a great competitor, a great student, great kid and the perfect person to build a program around,” Keene said.

Winthrop struggled to grab rebounds off its shots, and the Phoenix capitalized on that, steadily chipping in double-digit points each quarter.

“I thought we executed the game plan sometimes and sometimes we didn’t,” Winthrop coach John Baehr said. “But Spruce Mountain has got a hell of a program.”

One of many Spruce Mountain steals was executed by Jazmine Pingree, when she grabbed a pass off Winthrop almost immediately after the Ramblers got possession and fired it right back to Elizabeth Grondin, who finished with a basket. Then, Grondin outright blocked a Winthrop shot just two minutes after.


Grondin is the toughness and glue of the Spruce Mountain team, Keene said, especially with executing steals and rebounds.

“She doesn’t do all the stuff that gets all the glory, all the stats, all the points, but she’s our glue. She’s our communicator, she’s one of our best leaders with physicality,” Keene said. “She’s very important to what we do, and it means a lot to us.”

Keene added that the other half of the second-quarter steal duo, Jazmine Pingree, is a “matchup nightmare,” because she plays well both inside and outside and can handle the ball under extreme pressure.

“She also just brings this energy and this comedic relief to the team as a person, is super emotional and cares about her teammates,” Keene said. “Her growth as a person this year has been the biggest thing for her. It’s really cool to see.”

There was some tension outside the playing lines — multiple Winthrop fans were kicked out of the gym due to rising tension over referee calls — and two Winthrop players also fainted in the fourth quarter, adding to the heightened emotions in the gym.

“We had a couple of kids go down and, you know, it’s scary,” Baehr said. “I thought the kids responded really well with their teammates fainting.”


Baehr said the Ramblers struggled to put the ball in the hoop, despite getting decent looks on offense.

“We spaced the ball out very well tonight, compared to the last couple games, just didn’t knock down shots,” Baehr said.

The Ramblers found the hoop for a nine-point scoring run late in the third quarter, but by then the Phoenix lead was too wide to catch up to. Baehr said the short spurt was a byproduct of the players trusting each other on the court, which he called a component of the “system-based program” that Winthrop basketball runs.

More specifically, Baehr gave Ella Rice a shoutout for her domination on the court, running the Ramblers’ offense while finishing with four points.

“Ella Rice, she’s the leader of this group,” Baehr said. “She has the ball in their hand 75 percent of the time. They pressured 30 minutes out of 32 minutes tonight, so I thought we handled the press pretty well.”

Another standout for Baehr was Kylee Mansir, who totaled a team-high 16 points overall. He said she handled the ball well and helped prevent pick-sixes and cheap turnovers. He also said Haley Williams (five points) is a good defender, who took a couple of solid drives to the rim.


The Ramblers will celebrate their seniors at their last regular-season home game against Telstar on Wednesday.

For Spruce Mountain, another senior winning high praise from Keene was Mary Hamblin, who Keene called one of the best kids he has ever coached.

“She’s a leader, she knows what her role is, her teammates look up to her,” Keene said. “Everything that I want to coach the players, she brings to the table. Doesn’t matter if she plays one minute or 20 minutes, she’s a model teammate, model leader and model kid.”

Among the technical skill and impressive shots taken by the Phoenix players on the court, the goal of the last regular-season home game was to honor the five seniors — Hamblin, Grondin, Kachnovich and Jaydn Pingree and Jazmine Pingree.

“We’re just different from other teams,” Jaydn Pingree said. “We’re very close with each other, all five of us. Even our other freshmen, juniors and sophomores are very close with each other, and our bond is just different from others.”

Jaydn Pingree also said she appreciates the accolades and acknowledges her personal success across her four years at Spruce Mountain, but she would not have been able to achieve any of it without the support of her coaches and teammates.

The Phoenix will play their last regular-season game against Boothbay on Wednesday and hope to add another victory to the 11-game winning streak for a final confidence booster before heading into the playoffs.

“Expect us to practice hard and be ready to go compete in the state tournament,” Keene said. “We’ve never really been a team that looks too far forward. That has been something that makes them so good, they are so focused on what needs to be done right now. Starting with practice tomorrow, and Boothbay the next day, but we’ll be locked in and ready to go.”

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