February 6

HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS BASKETBALL: Spruce Mountain’s comeback downs Carrabec

The Cobras fell 59-32 on senior night at home as Spruce turned up the heat in the third quarter after trailing by one at the half.

By Matt DiFilippo mdifilippo@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

NORTH ANSON — In basketball, senior night is almost always a celebration. But on Thursday night at Carrabec High School, senior night was close to being overshadowed by a massive upset.

Normally, a 14-win team like the Carrabec girls inning at home doesn’t qualify as an upset of any size. But undefeated Spruce Mountain has rolled through the Mountain Valley Conference this winter. After trailing by one at the half, Spruce charged back in the third quarter and went on to a 59-32 victory.

With a win, Carrabec (14-4) would have moved into the No. 2 spot in Western C and avoided a preliminary round game. Instead, the Cobras will be third. Still, it’s already the best season for Carrabec in several years.

“I’ve worked with two of those seniors since they were in the fourth grade,” Carrabec coach Skip Rugh said. “It’s huge. We’ve got as many wins this year as we’ve had in the last three — combined. They’ve worked hard. They put the time and the effort in, and it’s nice to see them experience that. Now we’ve got to get it to that next step: Get through our prelim game on Tuesday, and put ‘em on that Augusta floor like they want to be.”

Carrabec was dealt a blow early when senior and rebounding specialist Macy Welch picked up two fouls in the first two minutes and sat out the rest of the first half. Even with Welch on the bench, the Cobras hung in there. Sophomore Mickayla Willette scored eight of her 10 points in the first half, and the Cobras also successfully got the ball inside to six-footer Emma Pluntke (10 points, eight rebounds). Carrabec led 16-15 at halftime.

“They were wo rking hard defensively, but I thought we were fairly stagnant on the offensive end,” Spruce Mtn. coach Gavin Kane said. “We weren’t moving very well, particularly when they went to their zone.”

“I think we handled their pressure well,” Rugh said. “We spent a lot of time working on how we were going to handle that pressure. I think they did a great job with it.”

Spruce was a more energetic unit in the third quarter. The Phoenix ratcheted up their pressure, and forced 10 turnovers in the first five minutes. Led by Kailee Newcomb (all eight of her points in the third quarter), Emily Keene (game-high 13 points), and Emily Hogan (nine points), Spruce began the second half on a 21-0 run and led 40-21 entering the fourth quarter.

“I was very happy with how we came out in the second half — a little more focused, and certainly, the energy level on the defensive end of the floor picked up another notch,” Kane said. “I thought our kids anticipated very well in our traps, and then we’re able to cash in, in transition.”

The Phoenix continued to show their depth in the fourth quarter. With Alex Bessey scoring nine points, Vanese Barnes hitting for eight, and Sam Richards scoring seven, Spruce had more players with at least seven points than Carrabec had scorers, total.

Of course, Spruce competes in Western B, so Carrabec won’t see the Phoenix in the playoffs. The Cobras played with the best team in the MVC for a half, and need one win at home to reach the Augusta Civic Center.

“I haven’t been waiting to be a senior, but now that it’s here, it just came way too quickly,” said Carrabec’s Jess Vaillancourt, who was honored along with fellow seniors Welch and Kaitlin LaCroix before the game. “Working with these girls has just been amazing. Working through the summers, it’s been a blast. I wouldn’t want to be with any other team.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243 mdifilippo@centralmaine.com Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo
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