AUGUSTA — There’s no one tried-and-true scorer for the Hall-Dale boys basketball team. Chris Ranslow is up and down about how he feels about that.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” said Ranslow, Hall-Dale’s head coach. “When you scout us, it’s really hard to focus on who you’re going to take away because there’s so much distribution. The problem is, when it’s a one-possession game late, who do you go to?”

Well, Ranslow didn’t have to worry about the latter Monday evening. Although No. 7 Hall-Dale’s Class C South quarterfinal showdown with No. 2 Richmond at the Augusta Civic Center was close for a little while, the Bulldogs’ balance made sure this one wasn’t close late and rolled to a 60-38 upset victory.

Hall-Dale, which got 12 points each from Zach Brown and Ben Nathan, 11 from Keegan Cary and 10 from Eben Austin, advanced to play No. 3 Monmouth Academy (16-3) in Wednesday’s semifinals. Richmond, which committed 26 turnovers, got 11 points from Hunter Mason (all in the first half).

Hall-Dale’s Karter Eldridge takes the ball inside against Richmond defender Logan Zoulamis during a Class C South boys basketball quarterfinal game Monday night in Augusta.

“This was a game where we really showed what we could do,” Austin said. “I think what’s special about this team. I don’t know how you can put up a scouting report for us because everyone can come out and get it done like we did today. You have to guard everyone; it’s not just one specific person.”

The two teams began the game running the floor at lightning pace with Hall-Dale’s Cary and Richmond’s Mason exchanging layups in the first 20 seconds. That marked the start of a tight first quarter, after which the Bulldogs led the Bobcats (16-3) 17-16 behind points from six different players.


Richmond, which had trailed by as many as five in the first quarter, scored five of the first seven points in the second to go ahead 21-19. Hall-Dale, though, used back-to-back layups by Nathan to begin an 11-0 run before two straight from Richmond’s Kenny Mecham stopped the bleeding. The Bulldogs (12-8) led 32-25 at half.

“Early on, I thought they hit some shots, and I thought we didn’t follow our game plan closely enough,” Ranslow said. “We readjusted at the end of one, and I thought we were good over the longevity of the last three quarters. … Getting on that run we were on just before half, that was big.”

Although the game was still within reach for Richmond as the second half began, Hall-Dale soon began to pull away. With the Bulldogs leading 37-28, Austin hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put them up 15 points. The lead only grew from there as Hall-Dale continued to outpace the Bobcats the rest of the way.

“That’s kind of how the season has been going for me, personally,” Austin said. “I don’t always have the best first half, but in the third quarter, I pick things up. It helps when my teammates also score, and like I said, that’s what we’re able to do. We played great today, everybody on the team.”

Hall-Dale’s second-half defense made sure Richmond couldn’t get back in the game. The Bulldogs allowed just four points over the first 7:07 of the first quarter, during which they stretched their lead from seven points to 18. They then held the Bobcats scoreless for the first 6:32 of the fourth.

Some adjustments after the first quarter, as Ranslow said, played a big role in that, and when Hall-Dale made them, the Bulldogs sensed a change in Richmond’s demeanor. Even when Hall-Dale went through a tough offensive stretch in the fourth quarter, Austin and Brown noticed how much more together their team was.

“We stopped helpside so they wouldn’t get as many open 3s because they kind of hit a few when we first came out,” Brown said. “After that, they started to fracture a little bit; they started getting mad at each other, turning the ball over and making some careless plays. We kind of knew then that (they weren’t coming back).”

Hall-Dale’s decisive victory sets up an intriguing semifinal showdown with Monmouth, which defeated rival Winthrop 51-39 earlier Monday. The Mustangs topped the Bulldogs’ 52-51 on Feb. 6 in the penultimate regular-season game for both teams.

“We know they’re a good team; they have some really good players,” Austin said. “That was a one-point game, and if we can just stay connected to their shooters and score ourselves, I think it’ll be a close one again.”

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