THE BRONX - The Cardinal Spellman boys basketball team is recovering after its first loss of the new year, a loss players suffered through without their coach.

Assistant Coach Colin Smith led the Falcons in New Rochelle against Iona Prep. In the second quarter, the Falcons trailed 14-6. Spellman sophomore Chris Manhertz tapped the ball off the backboard to score. He helped bring the Falcons within four and led all scorers with 16 points.

In the third quarter, the Gaels were up 25-16. Iona's Ryan O'Neil found Jordan Bronner, who scored two of his 13 points.

Bronner helped finish off the Falcons 52-39.

Some Falcons players said they attributed the loss to the absence of Head Coach Fred Opper, who was serving the first of a two-game suspension for his ejection in a game against Salesian.