JAY — Maintaining a high level of intensity with a seven-man rotation seemed unlikely, if not impossible, for Spruce Mountain.

Spruce Mountain’s Brandon Frey goes up for a shot as Winthrop’s Ryan Baird (32) tries to intervene during a basketball game at The Nest in Jay on Wednesday night. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

But the Phoenix’s stamina held up and they collected a big bag of Heal points with a 52-41 victory over the Winthrop Ramblers in a Mountain Valley Conference boys basketball contest Wednesday night.

The loss is Winthrop’s first of the season.

Spruce Mountain’s 16-3 performance in the first quarter was just one of the tell-tale signs that the Phoenix were on from the get-go. Senior guard Brandon Frey threw in 10 of his 21 points in the opening quarter. 

“I knew were were going to keep it (intensity) up,” Spruce Mountain coach Scott Bessey said. “Obviously, we are a very hungry team.  A lot of stuff goes against us. It seems sometimes we can’t catch breaks with our health. We had the flu game the other day. It cost us the game.

“But like I told them in there, that the amount of adversity that we continue go through on a daily basis, to show up and play with that much effort for 32 minutes, I couldn’t be more proud, man.”

Frey said he was ill in the morning, but felt better by game time.

“Something got into me (when) I woke up,” Frey said. “No one else could have done what we’ve done, using some of our kids. I had faith in my team and we could pull it out. They are just amazing guys.”

The big-and-strong Ramblers (13-1) made a run at Spruce in the second and third quarters, but the Phoenix (9-2) kept their distance and built a 23-15 lead at halftime, and at the end of three quarters, they were still holding the lead at 35-28.

Spruce Mountain’s Owen Bryant, right, celebrates his team’s victory over Winthrop at The Nest in Jay on Wednesday night. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The fourth quarter got dicey for both teams, as the Ramblers used their height and brawn to bear down on the Phoenix. That’s when brothers Jack and Owen Bryant teamed up with help from Cam Cain (seven points) to help the Phoenix stave off the tenacious Ramblers.

Jack Bryant knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and add another basket for his eight points. Owen Bryant contributed four of his seven points, and Cain made good on three foul shots to help put Winthrop on hold.

“It was a real tight game, and I wasn’t feeling it for three quarters, but keep shooting them and eventually they will go in and just to keep the momentum going,” Jack Bryant said. 

Winthrop’s Gavin Perkins and Ryan Baird each scored eight points.

“That was part of the game plan, in terms of we thought we would wear them down over four quarters,” Winthrop coach Todd Macarthur said. “We didn’t achieve that. Credit them.

“You’ve got to give Spruce Mountain credit. They out-coached us, they outworked us, they outplayed us in every aspect of the game, and when you do that, you’ve got got to tip your hat to the opponent, and we definitely tip our hat to Spruce tonight.”

Spruce Mountain guard Cam Cain passes the ball as Winthrop’s Cam Hachey (3) and Jacob Carter (1) close in during a game at The Nest in Jay on Wednesday evening. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

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