JAY — Leaving the perimeter open to the Spruce Mountain Phoenix is a real no-no.
The Phoenix (9-2) let a bunch of 3-pointers fall like the rain outside the Phoenix Dome in the first half Friday night. But the obstinate Oak Raiders (4-6) returned the favor in the second half before Spruce Mountain pulled away with a 55-49 victory in a boys’ basketball game.
One thing is for a certain: The Raiders no longer resemble a team that started the season at 0-4.
“It was a like a roller-coaster,” Spruce Mountain coach Scott Bessey said. “We had it and we pulled away and got comfortable and then we lose it for a couple of possessions — and we get it back and we hit a couple of big free throws at the end — which I think took some pressure off.
“I am pleased. Oak Hill is a tough. The (Darryn) Bailey kid is a beast, really, really difficult to contain, and they are playing really, really well.
“They started the season off slow. No style points today. It was about winning at all costs. If I won 5-4, I would have went into the locker room happy.”
Spruce Mountain showed a great deal of composure in the final quarter, especially when the Raiders just wouldn’t let up until time expired.
The Phoenix were holding a slim 42-38 lead going into the final stanza, and Oak Hill was ripe to take command.
Oak Hill’s biggest menace — 6-foot-2 senior forward Darryn Bailey (14 points, 4-for-4 at foul line) — brought the Raiders to within two of the Phoenix after he scored six straight points with 3:54 left in the game. Senior guard Cohen Donnell also scored 14 points and made good on four 3-pointers.
But after senior forward Shane Pelletier went under and emerged with two of his six points at 3:02, and senior guard Brett Frey (11 points) dropped in one his three 3-pointers, Spruce Mountain breathed a little easier with a 51-44 lead with 3:07 left on the clock.
A stunning drive to the basket by senior guard Jordan Daigle (four points) and Kayle Steward’s (team-high 13 points) two foul shots sealed it for the high-flying Phoenix. Senior guard Mason Shink delivered eight points with the help of his two 3-pointers.
“I think we got back to having fun again,” Bessey said. “A win always helps. I thought the kids played great.”
Spruce Mountain dropped in nine 3-pointers for the night, but the Raiders were equally impressive from the perimeter, landing seven 3s.
In the first half, the Phoenix kept the Raiders at bay with some impressive passing and pinpoint shooting from the perimeter to build a 28-23 lead.
“We are starting to play great defense and it is really starting to pick up,” Oak Hill coach Thomas Smith said. “I mean, we lost a tough one to Hall-Dale at our place, 50-49. We had a chance to win that.
“Come up here, this a tough place to play — and they know how to shoot the 3s, and I knew that’s what they were going to do. They made a couple of them right off the bat and got ’em going.
“We maintained. We hit every run they threw at us. We came and fought back. It was great game.”
Bessey will tell you the same thing.
Oak Hill’s Austin Pierce (22) reaches in for the ball as Spruce Mountain’s Jordan Daigle (12) and Mason Shink struggle for the rebound in a basketball game in Jay on Friday night.Oak Hill’s Darryn Bailey (20) and Spruce Mountain’s Shane Pelletier (23) struggle for the ball at the Phoenix Dome in Jay on Friday night.
Spruce Mountain’s Tate Walton (25) tries to stop Oak Hill’s Darryn Bailey (20) at the Phoenix Dome in Jay on Friday night.
Spruce Mountain’s Andrew Shaw (20) reaches for the ball against Oak Hill’s DJ. Pushard (14) at the Phoenix Dome in Jay on Friday night.