FARMINGDALE — He rarely shoots, rarely scores, and rarely dazzles.

And if you ask the players on the Hall-Dale High School boys basketball team, now 20-1 and one win away from a Class C championship, Owen Dupont is as valuable as any of them.

“He’s the definition of a glue guy for us,” senior guard Jett Boyer said. “He does all the dirty work. He does all the stuff that doesn’t show up in the stat sheet, like taking charges, everything you can think of. He’s definitely one of our most valuable players.”

While high scorers and clutch shooters like Alec Byron, Ashtyn Abbott, Tyler Nadeau and Boyer have gotten the glory and made the headlines during Hall-Dale’s storybook season, Dupont has become the Bulldogs’ top contributor away from the spotlight. He’s not going to put up the points. It’s not his game, and not his role.

But when it comes to grabbing an offensive rebound, boxing out a bigger player or taking a charge, no one’s better.

“I just do the little things,” Dupont said. “I like to win. Whatever (the) way (is) to win, I do it.”

“Owen, at the core, is a winner,” coach Chris Ranslow said. “He does the things that don’t get credit on the scoresheet, but they’re an intricate part of the fabric of good teams. You have to dive on the floor, you have to set screens, you have to guard the other team’s biggest kid.”

According to Dupont, it’s his nature. He admits he’s an oddity. The part of basketball that most players like? Cutting through the lane, dishing out assists, knocking down shots? You can have it.

Taking a screen to the chest, going up through elbows for a rebound or hitting the floor while drawing a charge? Sign him up.

“I like the style. I like to get dirty,” he said. “Setting screens, boxing out, helping everyone get open and score. I’m just making the game easier for the scorers.”

He’s always been that way. He’s had to be. He was a post player growing up, but once he got to high school, the 6-foot Dupont no longer had a natural home. He was shorter than most centers and without a guard’s game of shooting and ballhandling, so he learned to do everything that falls through the cracks. He figured out how to grab rebounds against taller players, gain leverage against bigger players and stay in front of quicker players. He’s become the team’s best on the boards — and many of those rebounds don’t come easily. Or painlessly.

“To complete the puzzle, you’ve got to find those crooked pieces,” Ranslow said. “He found out that all these things get thrown out and discarded by the flashy players, and he thought … ‘I’ll do them better and more consistently than anybody else.’ “

Dupont works hard, but he works well. It’s rare for Ranslow to find tape of Dupont making a mistake, botching an assignment or going to the wrong space.

“He looks great on film,” he said. “When you stop it and you watch the plus/minus breakdown of every possession, not just points scored but defensive and iso situations and then team defensive situations, he’s plus-plus-plus-plus-plus, all the time. On film, he’s always in the right spot. He just kind of gets it.”

With that intelligence comes trust. The Bulldogs often put Dupont on the opponent’s best inside player, which this season meant three occasions in which he was matched up with Cam Wood, Winthrop’s 6-8 standout center. Dupont held his own, and Hall-Dale won all three games.

“It’s all physicality,” Dupont said of handling size mismatches. “You’ve just got to get kind of dirty and play tough. Just get in front of him, box him out, get around him. It’s all hustle.”

“He plays great defense on the mismatch we might have,” said Byron, a junior. “Without him doing that (against Wood), it could have been a different outcome each of those games.”

Playing time can be hard to get and harder to keep at Hall-Dale, where there is talent and scoring punch throughout the roster. But in tight moments and late in games, Dupont is often on the floor. Ranslow’s learned he can’t take him off.

“We joke and say, once in a while, if you take a charge, it gets you an extra minute of time,” Ranslow said. “He’s found ways to find time and just make it so difficult to take him off the floor as a coach.”

George Stevens is up next, which means finding a way to deal with 6-6 center Max Mattson. Sounds like fun.

Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they have the man for the job.

“You’ve got to be tough,” Dupont said. “It’s the big game, the adrenaline’s pumping, you know you have to box them out to get the board to win. Simple as that.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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