Spruce Mountain’s Jack Bryant drives to the basket against Oak Hill’s Liam Rodrique in Jay on Wednesday night. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

JAY — Spruce Mountain coach Scott Bessey knew it was time to slow down the Phoenix’s offense to a walk in the fourth quarter,

There was no need to hurry. Spruce conjured up a comfortable lead, and the last thing Bessey wanted do was fire up Oak Hill’s capable run-and-gun offense. So in the last three minutes of the game, the Phoenix held on to the ball and walked off with a 47-33 boys basketball victory to remain undefeated at 5-0.

“That’s kind of the way the games have been going,” Bessey said. “We get out to a comfortable lead and we get tired. They make a run at us, but then our senior guard captains (Jack Bryant, Brandon Frey, Cameron Cain), with three minutes to go, we had the lead. We are tough to beat because of them.

“The decision making all of a sudden gets better and we can milk the clock away, and force the other team to get really frustrated, have to foul, or today, they watched clock go down,” Bessey said.

After building a solid 29-18 lead, the Raiders (1-3) did what they do best — run the ball up and down the court. Oak Hill found its groove, used its depth and climbed to within four of Spruce at one point.

In the fourth quarter, the Raiders’ shooting went cold, allowing Spruce to regain its composure and rattle off 12 points.

“I like it when we have the lead with two and half minutes to go. I like what we do. We held them to 33 points. They scored 80 one game. The decision to go to a matchup zone was a key. You have to keep them out of transition. When they don’t run in transition, it frustrates them. I think they have to hit open shots. So the game plan was don’t turn the ball over, get back on defense.”

Frey had a lot to do with the Phoenix’s fourth-quarter resurgence. He began with a key 3-pointer and scored four points on his one-of-a-kind pull-up jumpers.  For the evening, Frey threw in the game-high 13 points and added some fancy passing for good measure.

Spruce Mountain’s Cameron Cain (12) looks to pass the ball as Jackson Arbor (20) and Liam Rodriquez (10) intervene in a basketball game in Jay on Wednesday night. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“Brandon is going through his preseason right now,” Bessey said. “He missed the whole preseason. He missed the opening night game with his knee injury. So this is really his preseason. 

“So it is going to be a little bit before he is going the old Brandon Frey way, going a 1,000 miles an hour, making highlights,” Bessey said. “You see flashes of it. I get a little worried about senioritis, but then he has moments like that.”

Spruce sophomore forward Owen Bryant turned in another double-digit performance with 11 points. Oak Hill senior forward Justin Aldridge scored the team-high seven points.

“The game plan in the second half, when we went in at halftime, was to make a few adjustments and get right back into it,” Oak Hill coach Tom Smith said. “The guys played hard. This is the first time somebody slowed us down. 

“It’s a good ball club. They are very good,” Smith said of the Phoenix. “I think he figured he couldn’t keep up with the quickness I had there. It was a smart move and I am sure a lot of other teams are going to take it. To hold us to 33 points, I will give them credit.”

“I like it when we have the lead with two and half minutes to go. I like what we do,” Bessey said. “We held them to 33 points. They scored 80 one game. The decision to go to a matchup zone was a key. You have to keep them out of transition. When they don’t run in transition, it frustrates them. I think they have to hit open shots. So the game plan was don’t turn the ball over, get back on defense.”

Spruce Mountain’s Brandon Frey (2) goes up for a shot as Oak Hill’s Liam Rodrique(10) and Caden Thompson (15) try to stop him during a basketball game in Jay on Wednesday. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal Buy this Photo


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