Spruce Mountain’s Kayle Stewart, left and Jack Bryant, right, team up to trap Oak Hill’s Gabe Samson during Friday night’s game in Wales. (SUN JOURNAL PHOTO BY RUSS DILLINGHAM)

WALES— Like any young team, the Oak Hill Raiders are a team with a lot heart — and growing pains — but try as they may, they couldn’t keep up with Spruce Mountain in a Mountain Valley Conference basketball game Friday night.

From the get-go, Spruce Mountain (9-1) kept a safe distance from the Raiders (3-6), and despite Oak Hill’s heart and determination, the Phoenix walked off with a 65-35 victory.

“They are a really, really a young team,” Spruce Mountain coach Scott Bessey said. “They have no seniors. I think the future is really bright for them.

“But I think we did what we were supposed to do. I think we did what we had to do — made some shots, sped the game up, got them out of that zone, and then our experience took over. We applied a lot of pressure, and if you are not experienced in that, you are going to have trouble and that’s kind of what happened.

“I like that team. I like Oak Hill,” Bessey added. “They are a bunch of young kids, and I think in a couple of years, they are going to be really, really good. Right now, they are going to go through some growing pains. Coach (Tom) Smith knows that. He’s a really great guy and he’s going to have a great team on his hands.”

By halftime, it was clear the Phoenix had the upper hand after building a 37-14 lead.

The high-flyin’ Kayle Stewart annoyed the Raiders on defense most of the night and he also scored the game-high 18 points, followed by 14 apiece by the fast-moving Brandon Frey and Jack Bryant.

It certainly helped Spruce’s cause when Phoenix hit 11 of their 15 free-throw shots.

For the Raiders, junior forward Liam Rodrigue scored the team-high 13 points and Oak Hill knocked down five 3-pointers.

After the Spruce starters constructed a 51-22 by the end of three quarters, in came the bench from both sides in the fourth.

Smith doesn’t have to be told the Raiders are an up-and-coming young team.

“Very young, very young. No seniors, no seniors,” Smith said. “We are taking our lumps this year.

“My goal this year, with this team, each practice we get better and better. We work hard in practice and each game we get better and better,” he said. “That’s the goal. That’s the only goal for these guys and they are getting it. This was little step back except for the second half. They are working hard.”

When asked about Spruce Mountain, he just smiled.

“Spruce is Spruce; they are talented,” Smith said. “The kids I thought that we kept in check…the other kids are phenomenal and they really shoot well. They are a well-coached team.”