FARMINGDALE — No matter what the sport, you can’t always pull out an emotional win when you need it. But for Hall-Dale, it’s comforting to know the Bulldogs have proved they can do it.

Hall-Dale’s first loss of the season was to Spruce Mountain on Dec. 28. The Bulldogs got another shot at the Phoenix on Tuesday night. It wasn’t technically perfect, but Hall-Dale still earned an emotional 39-35 girls basketball victory.

“We were really fired up,” said Hall-Dale sophomore center Allison Crockett, who finished with eight points, four blocks and a career-high 17 rebounds. “We knew that we had to beat them this time.”

With both teams well-represented in the stands and screaming on every basket and turnover, the game was frantic at times. Hall-Dale led 3-0 when Kristina Buck banked in a 3-pointer in the opening seconds, and Spruce Mountain (8-1) never got back to even.

Spruce Mountain’s Kathryn Ventrella had a game-high 20 points, but needed 21 shots to do it. While Carylanne Wolfington guarded Ventrella in the first meeting, on Tuesday that assignment went to Buck, who sacrificed her offense to go all-out on defense.

“I thought Kristina Buck had an outstanding effort all night long on Ventrella,” Hall-Dale coach Brandon Terrill said. “I was really happy with our overall team defense. We really didn’t give them very many good looks.”

Hall-Dale led 21-15 at halftime, but Crockett sat out all of the third quarter after picking up her third foul late in the first half. Paley Sweet played a strong third quarter in her place, and in the fourth quarter, Crockett, Wolfington, and Wendy Goldman all stayed on the floor despite foul trouble.

“The key is that it’s nothing new for us,” Terrill said, laughing. “We’ve been in that situation before throughout the year — more often than I would like. Nobody ended up fouling out, even with the foul situations.”

With Crockett back on the floor for all of the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs again controlled the boards, and also kept Spruce’s second shots to a minimum.

“She’s been fantastic for us,” Terrill said. “Her improvement from November to now has been remarkable. As a sophomore, she’s very coachable. She works hard, day in and day out. With every passing game, you can see her acquire basketball knowledge and get better and better.”

Hall-Dale led 34-26 with 5:10 to play after a fast-break layup by Natasha Brown. The Phoenix scored the next six points, and missed out on three more when Ventrella traveled just before canning a three from the right corner.

With 2:19 left and the Bulldogs leading 34-32, Wolfington drove the right wing, split a few defenders, made a basket, and drew the foul. She made the free throw and hit two more later, and Spruce’s only points in the final 2 1/2 minutes came when Nicole Hamblin hit a 3-pointer with nine seconds left.

Wolfington, one of the top players in the Mountain Valley Conference, had been contained by Alexi Deering in the first half. After the break, Wolfington made her final four shots and scored 11 of her 13 points.

“That’s the kind of player she is,” Terrill said. “She rises to the occasion. We dropped a game to these guys up at their place. Her senior season, and her drive to win and succeed, I don’t think she was going to be denied in the second half.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

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