AUGUSTA — If the Lawrence Bulldogs were expecting to ease into the transition from fall to winter sports, coach Jason Pellerin has other plans.

“I’ve been telling guys even though we’re only six games in before this one, it’s the second half of the season as far as I’m concerned,” Pellerin said following Wednesday’s matinée against Erskine Academy. “It’s after Christmas. After New Year’s, games start coming at you fast and furious. Now our shoulder pads should be off. Our cleats should be off. Our helmets should be off. We should be ready to play some basketball now. There’s snow on the ground. We’ve got to be ready to roll.”

The Bulldogs moved closer to midseason form in a postseason venue with a 50-41 win over Erskine in the 21st Capital City Hoop Classic at the Augusta Civic Center.

Mason Cooper led four Bulldogs in double figures with 14 points, five rebounds and five steals. Seth Powers added 12 points, Kyle Robinson 11 points and six rebounds and Walker Thomas a career-high 10 points and eight steals for Lawrence (3-4).

“Mason Cooper’s been scoring a lot for us this year. He struggled a little bit tonight and it was good to see other guys step up and make plays,” Pellerin said.

“We know that Mason’s not going to have a 25-point night every night so we’re looking for anyone to step up,” Thomas said.

Trevor Hubbard led Erskine (1-6) with a game-high 22 points.

Lawrence, which never trailed, threatened to pull away several times throughout the contest. The Bulldogs led by as much as 18 early in the fourth quarter, but each time the Eagles would cut into the deficit, often with Hubbard attacking the basket.

“We didn’t play our style of defense. We gave him too much middle,” Thomas said. “We tried to force everyone baseline and sideline and he just took us out of what we wanted to do. Our big men stepped up on their ball screens and we just did whatever we could to keep him out in the second half. We did alright in the third quarter.”

Lawrence limited Hubbard to four points and Erskine to six points total in the third quarter to extend a seven-point halftime lead to 13. A hoop by Powers and a 3-pointer by Thomas made it 45-27.

The Eagles went on a 10-2 run to pull within 10 late but the last of their 22 turnovers and poor shooting that plagued them throughout, kept them from getting any closer.

“We were 16-for-45 from the field, but I liked my kids’ intensity,” Erskine coach Tim Bonsant said. “We made some mental mistakes, and you’ve got to put the ball in the hole.”

“We’re not going to win pretty. It’s just not in our makeup. We’re not that type of team,” Pellerin said. “The environment was a little different for the kids and we fought through foul trouble in the first half.”

Lawrence saw Erskine pare down leads of six, seven and nine points to one or two in the first half.

Powers scored inside off a feed from Cooper to make it 22-13 midway through the second quarter. But Hubbard put up six of his 15 first-half points during an 8-0 run to pull the Eagles back within one. Cooper closed the half with six straight points to give the Bulldogs a more comfortable 28-21 cushion at intermission.

“We had a tough first six games of the season playing some of the better teams in our league,” Thomas said. “Coach was just telling us it doesn’t matter how much we win by. We’ve just got to stick together. We don’t care if we win by one point or 20 points, we’ve just got to get the ‘W.’ We want to be that sixth seed (in Class A North), at least. We don’t want a prelim game this year.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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