By Tony Blasi, Sports Editor
WALES — Junior forward Andrew Shaw was the man from down under in the paint for Spruce Mountain on Thursday night.
Shaw picked up the slack underneath after the Phoenix’s perimeter went silent in the third quarter to help drive Spruce Mountain (12-4) past Oak Hill (6-11) with a 66-56 victory before a bedazzled crowd.
Shaw’s numerous turn-around jumpers underneath had everybody’s head spinning. The 6-foot-3 big man’s confidence grew with each basket he made and he ended up scoring 12 of his team-high 18 points in the third quarter.
“Made a lot of buckets all around the rim, which was good for our momentum going in because we were playing really slow,” Shaw said. “The building was dead. We feed off energy and when it was dead, it is like we don’t play that well. I think it was a good momentum builder…
“They (team) worked well in practice. They gave me good looks, and when my team gives me good looks, I have to finish. Get the points for my team!
“We were on a two-game losing streak so we just cracked that. It was just a good win coming back from a two-game losing streak.”
Spruce Mountain coach Scott Bessey applauded Shaw’s scoring exploits in the third quarter.
“I think his little spurt —I think it was mid way through the third — I think his aggressiveness around the rim is exactly what we needed,” Bessey said. “I think up to that point, if you look at our shot chart, there was going to be alot of 3s, but they were giving it to us.
“The whole first half, they were in a boxing one on Mason (Shink)… Brett (Frey) and Kayle (Stewart) were getting wide open 3s and weren’t getting a lot at the basket … I think Shaw broke loose. Confidence started going up and he started seeing the ball go in and he was being aggressive. Yeah, he was great.”
In the fourth quarter, the Phoenix didn’t score a basket for nearly four minutes as a determined Oak Hill team whittled down Spruce Mountain’s 53-46 lead.
But that’s when co-captain and senior guard Mason Shink, who hadn’t scored a basket for three quarters, stepped up and scored eight key points and went 6-for-6 at the foul line.
Shaw scored his last basket of the game, forward Nick Lombardi delivered two points inside the paint and co-captain Jordan Daigle hit a foul shot to put the game out of reach for Oak Hill.
In the first half, the Phoenix and the Raiders began launching their long-range ordinance from the perimeter. All of Spruce’s nine 3-pointers came in the first half. The Raiders dropped in seven of their nine 3-pointers in the opening half, too.
“I was telling the team, as a fan, that was fun,” Bessey said. “A lot of it was just very little defense. As fun as it was as a fan, as a coach, it was giving me a heart attack.”
Both teams put on quite a show from the perimeter and made fans on both sides of the court giddy as each basketball passed through the net.
For the Phoenix, Frey (17 points) and Stewart (15 points) fired away from the perimeter. Frey hit five 3s while Stewart delivered four.
The Raiders’ senior guard Cohen Donnell dropped in six 3s to go along with his game-high 20 points. Gavin Rawstron scored 12 points.
“We have been in every game that we have played and we just haven’t had the breaks that we did last year,” Oak Hill coach Thomas Smith said. “So we have been losing tough games. We played hard and that is all I can ask of these guys.
“They shoot 3s…We did what we wanted to do on Shink. Colby Webster did a great job on him. It was the 3s that killed us the first half.”
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