JAY — We’re at the midpoint of the MVC boys’ basketball season, and Spruce Mountain coach Chris Bessey still never is quite sure which team will show up.

The rim-rattling Phoenix, or the smooth-as-silk Phoenix.

Either way, Spruce Mountain pushes the tempo to such hyperspeed that beating them is a chore. Combine that with Tuesday’s 57 percent shooting through three quarters and you had the recipe for a 69-37 rout of Monmouth.

“It was definitely better. We’ve just to get more consistent, because Saturday was the opposite. We shot 29 percent at Lisbon,” Bessey said.

Deonte Ring led four Phoenix in double digits with 19 points. John McKenna came off the bench to provide 13 of his 17 in the first half.

Scottie Hall and Peter Theriault supplied 10 points apiece for Spruce Mountain (7-2).

“It definitely opens things up inside. That’s our philosophy,” Bessey said. “If our guys are open, we expect them to shoot it. That’s probably different than some of the other teams play. We give them the freedom to take it if it’s there.”

Spruce rained down four 3-pointers in the first quarter — two by McKenna and one each from Hall and Ring — to construct an 18-7 lead.

That cushion grew to 29-11 on another McKenna bomb with 4:05 remaining in the half.

Monmouth (3-3) answered with eight straight points, highlighted by Brandon Goff’s traditional 3-point play, before the Phoenix finished the half with their own 8-0 flurry in the final 1:03.

McKenna, Ring and Andrew Darling all scored off turnovers, capping the run to a 39-21 halftime lead.

“There was a minute to 90 seconds each quarter where we threw the ball to them and they got six or eight points, and that’s what killed us,” Monmouth coach Lucas Turner said. “Their pressure, we’d beat it four or five times in a row and then they’d get layups five or six times in a row.”

Goff led the Mustangs with 11 points. Brett Wilson, Kasey Smith and Joel Tozier each chipped in six.

It was Monmouth’s first game since Dec. 19.

“Jumping out of the gun playing a team like this without really practicing, I thought we did alright the first quarter,” Turner said. “They knocked down some 3s against our zone.”

Theriault had six points and Ring and Anthony York each dropped in four in the third quarter, pushing the lead to 57-31.

Spruce Mountain forced 34 turnovers.

Even though Monmouth shot a red-hot 10-for-14 through the second and third periods, there weren’t enough productive trips down the floor to mount anything resembling a comeback.

“We try to get as many possessions as possible, which means if you’re not shooting well you get more shots to try to shoot better,” Bessey said. “Our press was really effective, which got us more possessions and got the game where it needed to be.”


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