The ninth-seeded Cape Elizabeth girls’ basketball team shocked top-ranked and previously unbeaten Spruce Mountain 32-30 in a Western Class B quarterfinal Tuesday night at the Portland Expo.

Hannah Sawyer put the Capers (11-9) ahead with a late 3-pointer, then had two key blocks down the stretch.

For most of the game, Sawyer focused on gathering defensive rebounds. And with Spruce Mountain (18-1) shooting 10 of 62, there were plenty for her and Montana Braxton to snare.

Sawyer had attempted only three shots before she found herself alone in the right corner with 3:08 to play and Cape trailing 29-28.

“Throughout the game there were a couple I should have shot, and I kind of froze and didn’t,” Sawyer said. “I was open and my teammates did a great job of passing it around getting me the ball, and luckily it went in. I knew that’s one of my biggest roles on this team and I was mad at myself for not shooting earlier but glad that one fell.”

Sawyer, playing with four fouls, helped preserve the lead with two blocks of Samantha Richards on the same possession.

Cape Elizabeth will play No. 5 Lincoln Academy (14-5) in a semifinal at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Cross Insurance Arena.

Spruce Mountain entered with 63 straight regular-season wins but hasn’t made it past the semifinals in its four-year existence.

Cape had not won a regional quarterfinal since 1996, when it went to the regional final.

“At first our goal was to make the playoffs,” Cape Coach Chris Casterella said. “Then we said, we can beat (Fryeburg); let’s make it to the Expo where the real tourney starts. Now they’re all ‘Wow, we’re going to the Civic Center. Why stop now?’ “

Cape emphasized getting back on defense to thwart Spruce Mountain’s preferred transition offense. The Phoenix did cause 20 turnovers with trapping pressure but failed to convert them into points.

The Phoenix were also hurt by injuries. Leading scorer Emily Keene (11.8 ppg) struggled with back spasms – “She couldn’t even sit on the bus ride here,” Coach Chris Bessey said – and finished with three points.

In the third quarter, starter Vanesa Barnes injured her right ankle, had to be helped from the court and was unable to return.

Cape’s inside trio of Sawyer, Braxton and Madeline Bowe (team-high 9 points) frustrated Spruce’s inside threats. Except for back-to-back 3s by Amanda Castonguay that gave Spruce a late third-quarter 23-22 lead, the Phoenix couldn’t find their range outside, either.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at:

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