FARMINGDALE — Hall-Dale played the fourth quarter of its game with Mountain Valley as if it had something to prove.

At the very least, the Bulldogs proved their coach’s halftime message was sinking in.

Hall-Dale attacked at both ends of the floor in a 23-11 final quarter to pull away from the Falcons, 63-53, at Penny Gym on Tuesday.

Nat Crocker shot 9-for-10 from the free throw line to lead four Bulldogs in double figures with 17 points. Wesley LaPointe added 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.

“We didn’t play our best (in the first half) and we were really disappointed with how we were playing, even though we were winning,” Crocker said. “We knew we could play better, and coach (Chris Ranslow) told us that we couldn’t lose and it’s real embarrassing to lose this game. He really picked up our tempo and picked up our energy.”

“I’m glad my point guard said that I got underneath their skin a little bit because I needed to,” Ranslow added. “We just talked about what we wanted to leave as a mark for this game. Not only as a legacy for tonight and a team that’s above us in the Heal point standings, but also, moving forward, we need to begin to strike an identity. What are we going to be? Are we going to learn to close close games?”

The Bulldogs (7-4) closed this one by being aggressive on the offensive boards and by playing a smothering 2-3 matchup zone that forced the Falcons (6-6) to settle for low-percentage shots. They were 3-for-11 in the fourth, including 1-for-9 from the 3-point arc.

“We know we have a lot of big guys down low, so it makes it real difficult for them to shoot anywhere inside, so they have to go outside, and that’s what that zone really does for us,” Crocker said.

“We never like zones. We don’t shoot the ball that well from out there,” Mountain Valley coach Tom Danylik said. “Whenever we see them, we try to attack corner to the middle, but those guys are so long they make that real difficult. We made a couple of shots out of it. That’s not what lost us the game. We didn’t rebound there in the fourth quarter.”

The game was tied 46-46 when Ryan Sinclair converted on a pass from Brian Allen (10 points, eight rebounds) to put the Bulldogs on top to stay with 5:16 left.

As the quarter reached its midway point, Bryson Camp (13 points, six rebounds) followed his own missed 3-pointer, scoring while drawing a foul. He converted the free throw to make it 51-46. Tom Marshall hit a 3-pointer to pull the Falcons back within two, but LaPointe scored on a putback, then, after blocking a 3-point attempt at the other end, converted inside to make it 55-49 with 2:52 left.

“Habitually, we do a really good job crashing the glass. That’s not a problem,” Ranslow said. “The problem seems to be finishing, not making good decisions and turning the basketball over. I think we were 17-for-24 from the free throw line, which is pretty good for us, 70 percent. So we’ll take that.”

In the fourth quarter, Hall-Dale shot 7-for-10 from the line and turned the ball over just three times. It also limited Mountain Valley to one field goal in the final 3:47 to extend the lead.

Kyle Farrar led the Falcons with 14 points. Brad Marshall added 11 points.

The Bulldogs led by one at the end of each of the first two quarters. Mountain Valley led by as much as four in the third as Farrar came off the bench to hit a pair of 3-pointers. Ryley Flynn sank a turnaround jumper to give the Falcons a 42-40 lead at the end of three.

“I thought they were really hurting us with dribble penetration through the middle part of the game,” Ranslow said. “The 2-3 kind of stifled that and forced them to initiate their offense from further and further out.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

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Twitter: @RAWmaterial33