AUGUSTA — Six-foot-5 shot-blocking centers usually play offense in the low post. Not Sam Shepherd.

The Hall-Dale junior is much more at home at the 3-point line and it showed Monday night. Shepherd knocked down six 3-pointers, including two in the final three minutes, to lead fourth-seeded Hall-Dale to a 74-68 win against No. 5 Madison in the opening round of the Western Maine Class C tournament.

“It was really weird because this is my first game ever playing at the Civic Center,” Shepherd said. “There’s something about the hoop. It felt right. They were just falling all the time.”

Shepherd finished with a team-high 23 points and five blocked shots while Madison’s Austin Kane scored a game-high 25 points to keep his team in it.

Hall-Dale trailed 50-40 late in the third quarter after Kane converted a rebound and Dylan Price hit two free throws. But Shepherd was just getting warmed up. The lanky center sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around a layup by Harry Cheung to draw Hall-Dale within 50-48 at the break.

Madison took a 55-50 lead on a three-point play from Steven Lawrence but Hall-Dale answered with seven straight, including a 3 and a layup from Mike Woods, who scored 16 points.

“I told the guys before the game it was a game of streaks and runs,” Madison coach Mike Packard said. “With a 10-point lead we lost some shooters and they made us pay for it.”

The teams traded hoops down the stretch with Hall-Dale’s Austin Bechard (13) hitting a 3 to make it 60-57 and Matthew Soucy answering with a 3 to tie the score.

Shepherd scored eight points in the final three minutes, including a pair of big 3-pointers from each corner. The second, with 1:42 left, gave Hall-Dale a 72-66 lead. Shepherd capped his big night with a layup off a Bechard assist with 42 seconds left.

“We had a good defensive first half but basically turnovers killed us,” Kane said.

Madison committed only five turnovers in the second half, but four of those came in the final two-and-a-half minutes. Kane and his teammates grabbed the momentum early in the second quarter and kept for nearly two quarters. Kane scored nine points in the second period as Madison took a 33-26 lead to the locker room.

“I think the butterflies in the kids got the best of them,” Hall-Dale coach Jim Patrick said. “Once they settled down and started playing defense and getting the turnovers, I think the game started going their way.”

Patrick had Shepherd on the bench while he had his team zone press and Madison pushed the lead to 10. Shepherd returned just in timer.

“I started making my shots and he took me out,” Shepherd said. “I said, ‘Oh, man, I can’t wait to get back in to hit my shots.’ and it worked out pretty well.”

Price added 12 points for Madison while Lawrence and MJ Flanders each scored 10.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

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