The Hall-Dale Bulldogs have bounced back from their opening-night loss to Winthrop, but coach Chris Ranslow isn’t sure just yet how far they’ve bounced back with wins over St. Dominic and Oak Hill.

“It’s tough to tell,” Ranslow said. “We laid an egg in Winthrop and then came out and played two teams that I think are probably somewhere near the bottom of the pack. It’s nice to take care of business when we’re expected to win.”

Ranslow is happy with how the Bulldogs have recovered defensively since allowing 60 points at Winthrop.

“We’ve played better defensively and we’ve limited our turnovers,” he said.

Another key has been how they’ve played in the paint.

“I think we’ve gotten some good inside play, some consistent play from Wesley (Lapointe) and some consistent play from Brian (Allen),” Ranslow said. “Bryson (Camp) has done a real nice job finding his way through the game, too, playing inside and outside.”

Ranslow said point guard Nat Crocker has recovered from a difficult game against Winthrop, while freshman Tyler Nadeau has bolstered the backcourt coming off the bench.

The Bulldogs travel to Salem to face Mt. Abram on Saturday.

• • •

In the aftermath of Messalonskee’s 67-65 season opening win at Mt. Ararat on Friday, talk around Messalonskee centered around Nick Mayo’s 41 point, 16 rebound effort. Specifically, did Mayo set a single-game school record for scoring?

Head coach Peter McLaughlin said he’s not sure. Messalonskee’s records are not complete, McLaughlin said, so he’ll do some research to learn if Mayo broke the record. In the meantime, Friday’s game was a good example of what the Eagles can expect to see defensively from opponents all season as they try to contain the 6-foot-8 Mayo.

“Going into the year, we expected to see a variety of zones,” McLaughlin said.

Mt. Ararat used a box and one, a 1-2-2, and a 2-3 zone to defend Mayo, who has the range to shoot a 3-pointer or play on the low blocks like a traditional big man. Very little worked for Mt. Ararat. Mayo shot approximately 70 percent from the floor, McLaughlin said, and also was 17 for 20 at the free throw line.

“We got him the ball and let him go to work,” McLaughlin said.

Mayo was the only varsity veteran who started for Messalonskee, but McLaughlin liked what he saw out of his young team, particularly defensively.

“We had good shot selection. Our youth showed at times,” McLaughlin said. “Defensively, it was an entire team effort.”

• • •

Friday night’s game with Lawrence will be Cony’s home debut, but coach T.J. Maines believes the game is a must win for the 0-2 Rams.

At the very least, Maines is looking for a more consistent effort from his team, which has lost to Brunswick and Lewiston to open the season.

The Rams jumped out to a 27-15 lead at Lewiston on Wednesday, but a lapse in the second quarter helped Lewiston pull within six by halftime, then take the lead with a 12-2 run to start the second half.

“We’re not keeping our defensive intensity,” Maines said. “And we have long lulls at the offensive end where we stand around and get too stagnant.”

The Rams were also victimized on the boards, especially on the offensive glass. Led by 6-foot-10 center Trever Irish, who scored 22 points, the Blue Devils pulled down 22 offensive rebounds.

“He killed us,” Maines said.

Lawrence hasn’t played since Friday’s season-opening loss to Skowhegan, 66-64.

• • •

Like many high school basketball coaches, Winslow coach Jared Browne sits down with each of his players individually when the season ends and goes over his plan for what the player needs to work on during the offseason. Sometimes, that conversation requires Browne to use his power of persuasion to see that the plan gets off the ground.

When Browne sat down with then junior Justin Martin after last season, Martin didn’t need any convincing, and his offseason regimen has taken his game to another level.

“He’s a really smart kid. He knew what he had to do,” Browne said. “The big thing for him was getting physically stronger. He spent a lot of time in the weight room this summer.”

Martin muscled his way to a strong start for the Black Raiders in last Friday’s season opener, dominating both ends of the floor with 30 points and 20 rebounds in a 73-57 win over Maranacook.

In addition to bulking up, Martin built up his skill level as a member of Carl Parker’s all-star AAU 17-and-under squad, the Maine Athletic Club, which finished 11th in the AAU Division I Grade 11 National Championships.

“He played against some of the best players in the country and that’s how you get better. You get better playing against great competition, and you can tell. From the beginning of summer basketball to now, you can see how much better he’s gotten just by playing against guys that are a lot bigger, a lot stronger and more physical.”

In his first season playing for Parker and third overall in AAU, Martin played alongside Winslow teammate Nason Lanphier, Messalonskee’s Nick Mayo, Matt Murray of Cony and Houlton’s Kyle Bouchard, among others.

“Playing with the best players in Maine really helped my confidence and my play and ability to play under pressure,” Martin said.

Against Maranacook, Martin seemed to be bursting with confidence, especially slashing to the hoop. It’s an aspect of his game that, in the past, he has shown in flashes, but never relied on to the same extent as posting up or jump shooting.

“I don’t know if he’s been very confident with it the last couple of years,” Browne said. “Again, it goes back playing AAU. He’s a 6-foot-6 player, and you’re not going to post up a whole lot at the national level at 6-6. So he played a lot of the wing. He played a lot of wing for us this past summer, too. We know that’s how he’s going to help us. He can post up. He can slash. He can shoot. He’s a great all-around player.”

Staff writer Travis Lazarczyk contributed to this report

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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