FARMINGDALE — Crunch time separates the good teams from the great ones. Tuesday night, the Monmouth Academy boys basketball team may have provided itself the recipe for postseason success.

The Mustangs snapped Hall-Dale’s six-game winning streak without their best player for the bulk of the second half, outlasting the Bulldogs for a 52-51 Mountain Valley Conference win. The victory was the eighth in the last nine games for Monmouth (14-3), which lost leading scorer Sammy Calder midway through the third quarter to an ankle injury.

Calder only returned for a 20-second stint early in the final period, but couldn’t make it the rest of the way.

“We’ve been in situations where we haven’t had Sammy this year, where (guys) have fouled out, and we’ve usually lost those games,” said Monmouth senior Luke Harmon, who scored eight of his 10 points in the second half and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds. “It’s not a great feeling to have him out, but you’ve got to work a little bit harder and dig a little deeper.”

Hall-Dale’s Karter Eldridge, top, shoots over Monmouth’s Aiden Oliveira during a boys basketball game Tuesday in Farmingdale. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

In addition to Harmon, the Mustangs received other timely contributions, including a 21-point night that included five 3-pointers from freshman Levi Laverdiere and a combined six fourth-quarter points from Kyle Palleschi and Aiden Oliveira.

After trailing by five with 3:41 to play, 48-43, Monmouth closed the night with an 8-2 run. Palleschi’s bucket with 1:41 left handed the Mustangs the lead for good, 51-50, and a Bingham Abbott free throw with 10.1 seconds remaining sealed it.


“We showed some resilience there,” Monmouth coach Wade Morrill said. “It was nice to be able to pull this out with Sammy on the bench for most of that second half. We’ll take it.”

Both teams had multiple possessions in the final 38 seconds of regulation, and both teams played as though they intended to win the game. Instead, both teams committed costly turnovers and costly fouls.

“When you’ve been around basketball for a long time, things just stop surprising you,” Morrill said. “With high school boys sometimes, they do things that are off script. You’ve just got to work with them. … Some of that is when you take a player like Sam Calder out — you don’t practice that. You don’t practice for (clutch) situations without a player like that.”

Hall-Dale (10-7) trailed by seven at halftime, 23-16, but exploded in the third period to emerge with the lead.

After shooting just 5 of 16 from the floor in the first half, Hall-Dale connected on 10 of 17 attempts from the field in the third period (58.8 percent) to take a 39-36 advantage. But the fourth-quarter didn’t yield the same results for the hosts, who found only four field goals in total over the last eight minutes — and none over the final 2:33.

“You play 100 days of basketball and you work hard on focusing on time and score and execution and discipline under duress, and we didn’t do a very good job with that tonight,” Hall-Dale coach Chris Ranslow said. “By and large, I thought black wanted it a little more than white tonight.”


Monmouth battered Hall-Dale on the boards, out-rebounding the Bulldogs by a 31-23 count for the night. Hall-Dale also committed 16 turnovers, seven of those in the fourth quarter.

It was a 180-degree turnaround from the team’s six-game winning streak.

“Early in the season, the focus was on just getting shot attempts,” Ranslow said. “We were turning the ball over too much and just needed to get shots. Then in the middle part of the season, we stopped turning it over and started focusing on who was getting shots from where. That really cleaned up our game and fueled our six-game winning streak.

“It just didn’t break our way tonight.”

Keegan Cary led Hall-Dale with 13 points, one of three Bulldogs in double figures. Zach Brown added 11, and Eben Austin finished with 10.

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