JAY — It will be the highlight of their season when the Maranacook Black Bears step through the doors of the Portland Expo next week.

No. 9 Maranacook accomplished that watershed moment by beating No. 8 Spruce Mountain 34-21 in a Class B south girls’ basketball preliminary at the raucous Nest on Thursday night.

“These girls never experienced a game like this,” Maranacook coach Karen Magnusson said. “They have never been to playoffs, none of them — not one player on this team.

“So for them to be in their first-ever playoff game and for them to get into this atmopshere and come out on top is huge.” 

The Black Bears (10-9) go on to face top-seeded Gray-New Gloucester (16-2) on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. The Patriots’ will be a tough matchup for the Maranacook.

“You know, that’s not how we look at it,” Magnusson said. “For us, we are a young team — six sophomores, two freshmen, two juniors two seniors — and for a team that has won four games in the last three years, so to go 9-9, win the playoff, get to the Expo, it is all about the building.

“We are just excited to go, no matter who we are playing, but just get excited to get there.”

The game featured strong defensive performances on both sides of the court, but the Phoenix’s offense sputtered all night. Spruce only made good on six field goals and turned in single-digit scoring for all four quarters.

“When you make six field goals all night, it’s what it is,” Spruce Mountain coach Zach Keene said. “I don’t know. I will have to sit back and think about it, I guess. 

“I know we are losing four seniors that we are going to miss a lot that are struggling in the locker room right now.

“There is no question the effort was there tonight, and I was proud of the way played. We just didn’t make shots and that’s kind of our issue. We’ve gone through stints like that this year and not making shots.”

By halftime, the Black Bears were holding on to a 16-12 lead at halftime before they finally opened up on the Phoenix in the fourth quarter.

The Bears built a 24-18 lead with 4:45 left in the game. That’s when sophomore Gabrielle Green went on an eight-point run, coming up with six points inside the paint and two more from the free-throw line. 

“She did a phenominal job,” Magnusson said. “She is very good offensively. She was patient throughout the game, waiting for those moments to come, and a lot of it came because guards were composed and were able to make those looks.

“The first half, we were a little rushed … and I thought we did a better job in the second half.”

Maranacook’s Amanda Goucher threw in the game-high 11 points and Grace Despres helped out with nine — all 3-pointers.

For the Phoenix, junior guard Jaycee Cole scored the team-high nine points and senior guard Calley Baker had eight and went 4-for-5 at the free-throw line.


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