AUGUSTA — It took some extra time for Sammy Calder to work his magic, but he made it happen, and the Monmouth boys basketball team is off to the regional final.

Calder scored 35 points to lead the No. 3 Mustangs to a 73-67 overtime victory over No. 7 Hall-Dale in a Class C South semifinal Thursday night at the Augusta Civic Center.

“That was crazy,” said Calder, a senior forward. “Going into overtime, with all the people and both student sections were pretty packed. It was a great experience.”

Levi Laverdiere scored 14 points, while Jacob Harmon added 12 points and seven rebounds for the Mustangs, who will meet the winner of the Mt. Abram/Carrabec semifinal in the Class C South final on Saturday in Augusta. It’s the third consecutive trip to the regional final for the Mustangs, who are looking to capture their first C South title.

Keegan Carey led the Bulldogs (12-9) with 17 points, while Karter Eldridge scored 16 and Nick Brown added 15.

“I thought Nick Brown was probably the most improved player we saw in our conference this year,” Monmouth Academy head coach Wade Morrill said. “He led that team and he was a tough competitor. He was willing that team for a while. I was really impressed with Nick Brown, Coach (Chris) Ranslow and all the Hall-Dale Bulldogs.”


Monmouth’s Sammy Calder (11) watches as Hall-Dale’s Karter Eldridge (3) shoots while being defended by Monmouth’s Jacob Harmon (23) and Bingham Abbott during a Class C South boys basketball semifinal game Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Hall-Dale entered the fourth quarter with a 51-44 lead. But Calder kept the Mustangs (17-3) afloat, scoring 14 points — nearly all of his team’s scoring — in the period. By the end of regulation, the teams were deadlocked in a 60-60 tie.

“We knew (Hall-Dale) was playing really good right now, they got hot late in the season,” Calder said. “We just had to play tough and never give up, which we didn’t.”

“It’s the same message (between quarters),” Morrill said. “It’s all about doing what we do and doing it better. We made a couple small adjustments to a couple of things. I got tired of watching (Hall-Dale) take our guys to the block, so I said, ‘We’re going to take their guards to the block.’ We started putting (Calder) in the post. They went to the post after Sammy, and he’s a tough player down there, he’s a tough player everywhere.”

Calder and guard Aiden Oliveira each scored four points in overtime. The Mustangs managed to outscore the Bulldogs by a 12-7 margin in the period to secure the win.

“(Calder is) a Mr. Maine Basketball semifinalist for a reason,” Morrill said. “He’s the most hard-working, unassuming, quiet kid you’ll ever talk to. But he has a competitive streak like I have never seen. I’ve only coached one player like him in 19 years with that competitive fire.”

Both the Mustangs and Bulldogs were back-and-forth throughout the first half. Hall-Dale entered halftime with a 26-24 lead. The Bulldogs managed to take advantage of foul trouble by Monmouth, which committed 10 fouls in the third quarter, to outscore it by a 25-20 margin in the third.


“I’m really proud of the effort they put forth, they came to fight,” Hall-Dale head coach Chris Ranslow said of his team. “They had some ups tonight and they had some downs. In the end, we didn’t have enough finish. I thought we squandered the game in regulation.”

It’s the second time the two Mountain Valley Conference rivals have played down to the wire this season. Monmouth edged Hall-Dale 52-51 in Farmingdale on Feb. 6.

It was the final game for six Hall-Dale seniors, which included Nick Brown, Zach Brown, Ben Nathan and Eben Austin.

“It’s always hard to lose the last game you play, doesn’t matter if it’s at the end of the regular season or the semifinals,” Ranslow said. “As a coach, you always want one more practice. That was our focus today, ‘What do we have to do to get one more practice?’

“I’m sad to say goodbye to the six seniors,” Ranslow continued. “We’ve spent a lot of time and logged a lot of minutes with those kids. When you coach varsity, it’s not a 3 1/2-month thing, you’re with them all summer long. We logged a lot of good times together. We’ve seen a lot of good basketball and a lot of bad basketball. Ironically, I think we saw both tonight in our game.”

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