Spruce Mountain’s Lorne Grondin tries to make a pass as Hall-Dale’s Owen Austin defends during a central Maine tournament game Friday in Farmingdale. Dave Dyer/Kennebec Journal

FARMINGDALE — In any year, even this one, defense plays a large role in postseason basketball.

It certainly did Friday night, as the Spruce Mountain boys basketball team beat Hall-Dale 30-18 in a central Maine tournament Class C/D quarterfinal game.

Spruce’s tough defense and shooting woes ultimately hurt the Bulldogs, who scored three points in the second half. Though Spruce Mountain didn’t blow Hall-Dale away offensively — scoring 13 second half points — it was enough Friday night. Lorne Grondin helped put the game away in the fourth with four free throws.

“Our matchup zone is very hard to play against,” Spruce Mountain head coach Scott Bessey said. “I guarantee you (Hall-Dale) will be better next year getting that experience. A lot of kids coming back. To hold a varsity basketball team to three points in the second half is something we can be proud of.”

The Phoenix also managed to edge the Bulldogs in rebounds.

“If you don’t turn the ball over, with our size, and we get shots, we should be able to get a bunch of second-chance points with our size,” Bessey added.

Both teams scrapped in the first half, neither giving much of an edge to one another. The Phoenix had the slight edge, holding a 17-15 lead at halftime. The Bulldogs played excellent defense in the lane throughout the game, making shots difficult for the Phoenix.

“(The game) was unlike anything I’ve seen in a long, long time,” Hall-Dale head coach Chris Ranslow said. “But what a gutsy performance. I thought we played really, really tough in the half court, defensively. I thought we made them work for everything… We played spirited, and we played hard defensively. You can’t ask much more than that as coach.”

Carter Bourque led Hall-Dale with nine points. Ranslow praised his team for getting through an unusual season.

“Everyone wants to point to the negatives with COVID, but I always try to find a silver lining with everything,” Ranslow said. “A hidden message that you wouldn’t find if it was easy. Certainly, COVID has been hard on us all. We’ve just grown to appreciate the time that we’ve spent together, the friendships you make, just the inclusion piece you have playing basketball, trying to work together for a common goal, something larger than yourself… To get a full 12 (games) in, and host a playoff game, it’s just so bittersweet. It’s just so nice.”

Grondin led Spruce Mountain with nine points, while Jayden Perreault added seven points.

 

Dave Dyer – 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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