One of the mild surprises in the Mountain Valley Conference over the first half of the season was the play of Hall-Dale. The Bulldogs were hit hard by graduation, losing a talented group that contributed to a regional title in 2018, including Mr. Basketball semifinalist Ashtyn Abbott and 1,000-point scorer Alec Byron. If the Bulldogs are rebuilding, they’re doing it quickly.

Hall-Dale entered Wednesday’s game against Monmouth with an 8-3 record. That includes a big win over perennial contender Boothbay, as well as a few humbling losses. The Bulldogs are showing the inconsistency of a team still learning to play with each other, coach Chris Ranslow said.

“We’ve had a couple tremendous wins, and a couple disturbing defeats. Some days we bring the energy, discipline and awareness it takes to play with the best teams in the conference, and some days we confuse game time with third period gym class,” Ranslow said. “With so many guys fulfilling new roles, the first couple of months were always going to be a work in progress. Growing pains stumbled us up frequently. You can see growth though throughout the unit, guys are beginning to understand and fully embrace their roles within the team structure.”

The focus continues to be valuing the basketball, and turnovers have been a problem, Ranslow said. Playing hard man-to-man defense and making free throws are other points of emphasis for Ranslow down the stretch. Senior point guard Josh Nadeau has become a bigger piece of the offense, Ranslow said.

“(Nadeau’s) shot significantly more this season, and to his credit; significantly better, and upped his contribution level in the rebounding game,” Ranslow said.

Senior center Patrick Rush leads Hall-Dale in scoring and gives the Bulldogs a solid big inside to run its halfcourt offense through. Sam Shaeffer and Ian Stebbins have been defensive stalwarts, typically guarding the opponents top players.

“Their gritty play provide the toughness we need to display across the spectrum,” Ranslow said.

That gritty play will be key for the Bulldogs down the stretch. Five of Hall-Dale’s final seven games are against opponents with a winning record. The Bulldogs face Monmouth (6-4) twice, along with Mt. Abram (8-4), Spruce Mountain (8-2), and a rematch with Boothbay (9-2).

 

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Temple Academy could get senior guard Nathan Riportella back from a broken arm before the end of the regular season, coach Scott Corey said after Tuesday’s loss to Forest Hills.

“He should be back in two weeks, maybe,” Corey said.

Riportella suffered the broken arm in the third game of the season, a loss to North Yarmouth Academy. The Bereans have missed Riportella the most is tenacity, Corey said.

“We miss his intensity on defense. He’s not going to give up 15, 16 offensive rebounds,” Corey said.

Tuesday’s loss dropped Temple’s record to 4-5, and was disappointing in that Corey felt his team let too many opportunities slip away against the defending Class D state champions. In two losses this season to Forest Hills, Temple was outscored 167-96. The Bereans will look to rebound at Buckfield Friday.

“I thought we would play much better (against Forest Hills). We need to finish, and we need to rebound, because they make you pay. They’re good,” Corey said.

 

• • •

 

A sleeper in Class D South could be Rangeley. The Lakers are 9-1, the loss coming to Forest Hills. Rangeley has allowed just under 41 points per game, and that is skewed by the 85 points scored by Forest Hills. Take the Forest Hills game out of the mix, and the Lakers allow just 36 points per game.

Six of Rangeley’s final eight games are at home. After playing at Valley Friday, the Lakers host six games in a row before ending the regular season with a trip to Waterville to take on Temple Academy. The Lakers have games remaining against three Class C teams: St. Dominic, Buckfield, and Richmond, so there’s Heal Points to be gained. Rangeley currently sits in second place in Class D South, behind undefeated Forest Hills.

 

• • •

 

Around the state: Entering play Wednesday night, there were eight undefeated teams in the state: South Portland, York, Hampden, Caribou, Winthrop, Dexter, Jonesport-Beals, and Forest Hills…  The game of the regular season in Class B North is scheduled for Saturday, when first place Caribou (10-0) plays at second place Hermon (10-1). Caribou is the defending Class B state champion, while Hermon won the gold ball in 2018. If Caribou is going to run the table, it will be tested. Six of the Vikings’ final eight games are on the road… It’s a three-team race for the top spot in Class AA North between Edward Little (9-2), Deering (9-2), and Bangor (8-3). Edward Little and Bangor already split a pair of games and will not face each other again unless it’s in the tournament. Deering already has a loss to Edward Little and will face the Red Eddies again at home on Jan. 28. Deering has yet to play Bangor. Deering hosts Bangor on Jan. 22 and makes the trip north on Jan. 31.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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