Spruce Mountain’s Jack Bryant (22) tries to get around Mt. Abram’s Spencer Fortenback (20) as Brandon Frey, right, is knocked to the ground during Friday’s game at the Phoenix Dome in Jay. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

JAY — Brandon Frey’s pull-up jumper was in working order and Jack Bryant was comfortable at the free-throw line and shooting from the perimeter.

Everyone else on the Spruce Mountain boys basketball team chipped in to hold back the uncompromising Mt. Abram Roadrunners for 62-49 victory in a Mountain Valley Conference game at the raucous Phoenix Dome on Friday.

It was rough-and-tumble at The Nest, where the shrill of whistles filled the air after the many fouls called on both sides of the court.

“I mean, we missed a bunch of free throws that kind of kept them in there a little bit,” Spruce Mountain coach Scott Bessey said, “and we couldn’t rebound defensively.

“When we spread the floor and got it to Brandon, he started doing his thing. They were staying in the game by offensive rebounding, and I am not talking about their big guys. I am talking about Kenyon Pillsbury, Hunter Warren and Adam Luce were getting in in there. They are tough kids.

“They were getting offensive rebounds and put-backs and getting us into foul trouble. So that worried me because I thought we were scoring well and I thought we were defending well. We just couldn’t rebound. We were just getting pounded on the glass. 

But Frey’s 24-point performance, Bryant’s 18 points and Cameron Cain’s hard-earned 10 came in handy against the Roadrunners, who had the height advantage and dominated the glass. 

Spruce Mountain’s Brandon Frey tries to put up a shot as Mt. Abram’s Kenyon Pillsbury (4), Thomas Deckard (24) and Adam Luce (2) defend during Friday’s game at the Phoenix Dome in Jay. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“When they (3-pointers) are open, I shoot them,” Bryant said. “We always look for the open shot, and so when it is there, I take it.”

Bryant also was solid at the free throw line.

“Foul shots are huge,” he said. “We haven’t been doing so hot this year. I really didn’t even do that hot (at the free-throw line) tonight.” 

Bryant said boxing out and getting position were the keys to stopping Mt. Abram’s formidable big men. 

Frey used some of his football moves to get around the Roadrunners in what was a physical game.

“They are a good team,” Frey said. “They wanted to win. We are worth a lot of Heal points, so I understood they were going to come after us with all they got. They are scrappy, and that’s what makes them good.”

The Phoenix (8-1) led every quarter and put together a solid 33-20 halftime lead, they didn’t ever seem comfortable with a double-digit lead.

That’s because the Roadrunners (7-3) continued to hound the Phoenix for the entire game. Spruce’s agile defense and different schemes kept Mt. Abram off-balance.

The Phoenix’s 3-pointers started to fall in the second quarter, followed by their usual fast breaks in the third, but it was their defense that won the day.

“I am proud of them, down the stretch, making their free-throws, defending and rebounding,” Bessey, whose team went 14-for-26 at the foul line, said. 

Nathan Luce led the Roadrunners with 16 points.

“I thought rebounding went pretty well,” Mt. Abram coach Dustin Zamboni said. “I think our overall shooting percentage hurt us.  

“Their pressure was just enough to disrupt our offense. That is just something we have to work on with that type of intensity. It is hard to teach offense against a team with that many defensive weapons.”


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