FARMINGDALE — The Hall-Dale girls basketball team knew it would have its hands full with Dirigo in a key Western C showdown Wednesday night at Penny Memorial Gymnasium.
The Bulldogs also knew if they could dictate the pace of play, they could get a key victory in their quest to host a playoff game.
“We knew Dirigo liked to get it up and down the floor and we couldn’t let that happen,” Hall-Dale coach Brandon Terrill.
The Bulldogs didn’t, and they came away with a much-needed 47-33 victory.
Allison Crockett led the way, scoring a game-high 16 points to go along with 10 rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Molly French came off the bench to score 11 points, including three 3-pointers. Dani Sweet scored six points — all in the first four minutes of a game-altering first quarter. Nicole Pelletier scored eight points for Hall-Dale (8-5) before she departed with an apparent ankle injury with 5 minutes, 32 seconds left in the game.
“This is a huge win for us,” Terrill said. “We want to host a prelim game. We needed this one.”
Lauren Henderson scored 13 points while Kelsey Hutchins chipped in with 11 for the Cougars (8-6), who trailed by as many 17 points in the first half and never pulled within single digits in the second half.
“Give credit to Hall-Dale, they came out and played well,” Dirigo coach Reggie Weston said. “They had a great game plan. We like to run. We want to push the ball up and down the floor and we couldn’t do that tonight. Give them credit.”
The Bulldogs were able to slow the game down from opening tip to final buzzer thanks to a patient yet deliberate offense.
Of course, a strong start helped them execute the plan.
After Henderson hit a 3-pointer to open the scoring, Hall-Dale outscored Dirigo 18-5 the rest of the first quarter. Sweet scored three consecutive baskets, including two in transition, to give the Bulldogs the early lead.
When Sweet wasn’t slicing to the basket, the Bulldogs fed the ball to Crockett, who buried all her open looks and otherwise dominated the paint.
“We wanted to come out strong and we did,” Crockett said. “We made a lot of crisp passes and played great defensively. Dirigo wanted to get into a track meet and we didn’t want that.”
Hall-Dale lead 28-15 at the half and grabbed its biggest lead of the night — 37-20 — when French buried a 3-pointer from the wing with 2:05 left in the third quarter.
The Cougars went on a 7-0 run at the end of third and into the fourth quarter to pull within 37-27, but the Bulldogs responded with a pair of big inside baskets by Crockett to quell the rally.
“We were getting a little nervous,” Crockett said. “We knew they would make a run coming into the fourth. But we took two minutes to stay calm and collect ourselves.”
Added Sweet: “We just stuck to our game plan. We stayed poised.”