FARMINGDALE — No Brandon Frey, no problem for the Spruce Mountain boys basketball team.

With one of the Mountain Valley Conference’s top players sidelined, the Phoenix still rolled, getting 21 points from Jack Bryant in a 51-34 victory over Hall-Dale Saturday afternoon.

A senior guard, Frey is out with a sprained ligament in his knee from football season. Bryant, who was recovering from the same injury, stepped up for his gridiron teammate, connecting on three first-quarter 3-pointers and then adding nine more points in the third quarter as the Phoenix broke open a close game.

“Jack came back, (and) I think he played very well,” coach Scott Bessey said. “They toughed it out. I’m proud of the second half, for sure.”

The injuries weren’t limited to pre-game ding-ups. Starter Lorne Grondin broke his pinky finger in the first quarter, giving a thin Spruce Mountain team another hole to fill. Freshman Lucas Towers got the nod, and pulled down nine rebounds while giving the Phoenix a physical edge down low.

“I thought he was fantastic,” Bessey said. “He knows his role, he plays his heart out. He has, in a sense, kind of rescued us. When you’re that hit with injuries like we are and not very deep to begin with, you need something like that to happen. … I thought he might have been the difference.”

A Hall-Dale team that has had to fill holes of its own due to the graduations of Alec Byron and Ashtyn Abbott made a charge, however, and bounced back from an 18-10 first-quarter deficit to take a 25-23 lead on a Josh Nadeau (11 points) steal and score with 6:33 to go in the third quarter.

It was just 28-27 Spruce Mountain when the game got away from the Bulldogs. Cameron Cain (13 points) hit a 3-pointer to bump the lead to 4, and Nadeau was called for a technical foul that, after a pair of Bryant free throws, made it 33-27. H-D coach Chris Ranslow sat Nadeau after the call and the Bulldogs struggled from there, with Jayden Perrault hitting a free throw, Cain hitting another 3-pointer and Bryant getting a steal and layup to finish an 11-2 run that made it 39-29 and effectively buried the hosts.

“I think that’s where our inexperience kind of showed the most. A bunch of kids that kind of lost their point guard and we didn’t know how to respond,” Ranslow said. “It was kind of the deer-in-the-headlights scenario where (they think) ‘Whoa, what do I do now?’ ”

Pat Rush and Boden Washington had seven points apiece for the Bulldogs.

“The adversity of the third quarter kind of hurt us. … We couldn’t stop the bleeding,” Ranslow said. “It was a great learning experience. I hate to lose and I hate to be a part of something that looked like it did in the third quarter and early fourth, but shame on us if we don’t learn from it.”

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