AUGUSTA — For a good part of Wednesday evening, the Mt. Abram boys basketball team wasn’t the better team by much in a Mountain Valley Conference showdown against Hall-Dale.

Fortunately for the Roadrunners, there was a five-minute stretch in the second half in which they were utterly dominant — and that, this time, was more than enough in a 67-48 victory.

Mt. Abram used a 15-0 run to end the first half to turn a tight game into a lopsided one in a Capital City Hoops Classic showdown at the Augusta Civic Center. The result gave the Roadrunners a key win over a fellow contender in the MVC and Class C South.

“We knew at some point we would need to make a run, and to get it going into halftime, that’s huge,” said Mt. Abram head coach Dustin Zamboni. “We kept going score-stop, score-stop, and the next thing you know, we’re up big and have a lot of momentum.” 

After Hall-Dale (4-2) took a 6-4 lead, Mt. Abram’s Bryce Wilcox scored seven points to highlight an 11-3 run that put the Roadrunners up 15-9. Payton Mitchell (11 first-half points) then got hot for Mt. Abram, but a series of rebounds and putbacks from Carter Bourque kept the Bulldogs in it as the Roadrunners led just 23-20 early in the second quarter.

Mt. Abram, though, responded with fluid possessions on offense and a slew of steals on defense. First, Kaden Pillsbury converted a layup before adding an and-one that gave the Roadrunners (4-1) their first double-digit lead. Cam Frost-Gray then added a 3-pointer before sinking a mid-range jump shot at the buzzer that put Mt. Abram up 38-20.


“It definitely feels good when you’re playing good and you go from being ahead by a little to up by a lot,” said Pillsbury, who finished with a game-high 17 points. “That was a good (end to the second quarter), so we definitely wanted to keep the foot on the pedal.”

Mt. Abram did that early in the second as two quick baskets from Kaden Pillsbury and a 3-pointer from Killian Pillsbury gave the Roadrunners their largest lead of the game at 45-23. Hall-Dale battled back to pull within 13 on two occasions but could not get any closer than that as Mt. Abram left Augusta with a valuable win.

Mitchell and Wilcox joined Kaden Pillsbury in double figures with 16 points and 12 points, respectively, and the latter added a team-high six rebounds. The Roadrunners also got nine points from Killian Pillsbury and seven points and four-rebounds from Frost-Gray.

Those players contributed at different times for Mt. Abram with Wilcox starting out the game strong, Mitchell leading the way in the second quarter and Kaden Pillsbury taking over in the third. That’s a feature of this Roadrunners team, a balanced unit not carried by just one or two guys.

Hall-Dale’s Keegan Cary, with ball, is swarmed by Mt. Abram defenders in a boys basketball game during the Capitol City Hoop Classic on Wednesday at the Augusta Civic Center. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

“I like that we have the ability to have different shooters on different nights,” Zamboni said. “You’re going to have times when some guys go cold, so you need other guys who can shoot. It really drives home that our offense is going to come from the defensive end, so we need to have the right guys jumping for those steals.”

Getting steals in key moments was certainly a boon for Mt. Abram as it converted those turnovers into points numerous times, both during the 15-0 run and later in the game. The Roadrunners held Hall-Dale’s T.J. Wilson, one of the MVC’s top players, to just 13 points as the Bulldogs were held to a season-low as a team.


“We always play hard defense, and when our press is working, we get a lot of stops and (force) a lot of turnovers,” Mitchell said. “We knew we had to keep the pressure on them and frustrate them. … (With Wilson), we had to stay in front of him and not let him get anything easy.”

Bourque led Hall-Dale in points (14) and rebounds (eight), and Cody Cobb scored 11 points to join Bourque and Wilson in double figures. Jackson Leach added six points and seven boards for the Bulldogs, who lost for the second time in three games after a 3-0 start to the season.

Mt. Abram’s win over the Bulldogs came on a Civic Center floor where the Roadrunners made some noise as the No. 7 seed a year ago. Zamboni’s team has the aspirations this year with a team that has the tools to make sure this win in the building won’t be its last in 2022-23.

“We have some kids who have played on this Civic Center floor, but some of our guys haven’t, so a day like this is great,” Zamboni said. “We got it done today early in the season, and hopefully, we’ll be back in the playoffs and do it, too.”

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