AUGUSTA — Ashtyn Abbott was everywhere — at the end of seemingly every drive, in front of what seemed like every pass, under what appeared to be every rebound.

Just the kind of effort the Hall-Dale boys’ basketball team needed to win one of the first marquee matchups of the season.

Abbott scored 26 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and recorded six steals, leading the Bulldogs to a 57-46 victory over previously undefeated Winthrop in a matchup of the past two Class C South champions.

“I thought this was probably the biggest game of our year, other than (a loss to) Mountain Valley, and we were looking a little staggered in the first half, not really playing together,” Abbott said. “But I think in the second half, we really pulled it together and played as a team. It was a fantastic win.”

Alec Byron added 15 points and Josh Nadeau scored seven for Hall-Dale (5-1), which broke a 25-25 tie at halftime with a 7-2 run to start the third quarter and take the lead for good.

“It is kind of a litmus test,” Bulldogs coach Chris Ranslow said. “It’s kind of, ‘Where are you?’ We’ve played against some up-and-down competition. … To come out and show like this, in this holiday tournament and this setting, I hope it’s a confidence boost and it kind of propels us forward.”


Winthrop (6-1) got 12 points from Cam Hachey and 11 points from Cam Wood, as well as seven rebounds from Jevin Smith and six from Nate LeBlanc, but struggled with turnovers early in the first quarter and struggled to maintain a rhythm on both sides of the court as Hall-Dale pulled away.

Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur credited the Bulldogs for their performance, but said he needed to see more from his team.

“We need to do a better job of taking game plans and executing them on the floor,” he said. “We didn’t do a good enough job of limiting Ashtyn’s touches, and I thought we made it way too easy for him to score the basketball. A point of emphasis was to put our attention to him and try to own the glass, and we failed in both of those areas.”

Hall-Dale jumped ahead on a Nadeau steal and score on the first Winthrop possession of the second half, then got a 3-pointer from Abbott and a basket from Byron to go up 32-27 with just over five minutes left in the third.

“I think it all happened during halftime,” Abbott said. “We got together and talked about it, and realized we weren’t playing as a team. We were throwing some lackadaisical passes, not boxing out, not hitting our assignments. But after the talk we really got together.”

The Ramblers never got within a possession from there, held in check the rest of the way by a stiff Hall-Dale defense. Abbott was the key, playing both aggressively on the perimeter and physically on the boards to keep Winthrop to one shot on its trips down the floor.


“(He) really changed how aggressively people attacked the glass,” Ranslow said. “I think him on the defensive end was as important as any single element of the basketball game.”

After Winthrop cut the gap to 50-43 on a drive by Jared McLaughlin (seven points) with just over three minutes remaining, Hall-Dale got three free throws from Nadeau sandwiching a Tim Cookson basket to bump the lead to 12 and end any hope for a Rambler comeback.

Abbott got to provide an exclamation point, stealing the ball and dunking on the fast break with 20 seconds to go for the final points.

“Whether it’s personnel-related, whether it’s game plan-related, sometimes you’ve just got to tip your hat to the opponent,” MacArthur said. “They obviously did a good enough job to come away with the victory.”

Both teams struggled early, as Winthrop committed six turnovers within the first four minutes of play and Hall-Dale gave away a 25-20 lead late in the second quarter with sloppy play of its own.

In the second half, however, Ranslow saw a far sharper team.

“I thought we went in and had a good conversation about what the next 16 minutes were going to look like,” Ranslow said. “And then I thought we came out and executed at a really high level.”

MacArthur never saw his team shake its error-prone ways, and said it would have to in order to turn what’s been a hot start into a strong season.

“I like where we’re going, I like our growth so far this season. We’re a really good team,” he said. “But the difference between really good and great is a small margin. … My biggest failure would be (that) we don’t achieve what we’re supposed to achieve because we don’t do the nitty-gritty things to get the job done.”