Wednesday, December 11, 2013
AUGUSTA — Shot-blocking centers usually play offense in the low post. Not Sam Shepherd.
The 6-foot-5 Hall-Dale junior is much more at home at the 3-point line, as he showed Monday night at the Augusta Civic Center. Shepherd knocked down six 3-pointers, including two in the final three minutes, to lead fourth-seeded Hall-Dale to a 74-68 win against No. 5 Madison in the Western Class C quarterfinals.
“It was really weird because this is my first game ever playing at the Civic Center,” Shepherd said. “There’s something about the hoop. It felt right. They were just falling all the time.”
Shepherd finished with 23 points and five blocked shots. Hall-Dale trailed 50-40 late in the third quarter after Madison's Austin Kane converted a rebound and Dylan Price hit two free throws. But Shepherd was just getting warmed up. The lanky center sandwiched a pair of 3s around a layup by Harry Cheung to draw Hall-Dale to within 50-48 after three quarters.
After a three-point play by Steven Lawrence, Hall-Dale answered with seven straight, including in a 3-pointer and a layup from Mike Woods (16 points), to take a 57-55 lead.
“I told the guys before the game it was a game of streaks and runs,” Madison Coach Mike Packard said. “With a 10-point lead we lost some shooters and they made us pay for it.”
The teams traded hoops down the stretch, with Hall-Dale’s Austin Bechard (13) hitting a 3-pointer to make it 60-57 and Matthew Soucy answering with a 3 to tie the score.
Shepherd scored eight points in the final three minutes, including a 3-pointer from each corner. The second, with 1:42 left, gave Hall-Dale a 72-66 lead. Shepherd capped his big night with a layup off a Bechard assist with 42 seconds left.
“We had a good defensive first half but basically turnovers killed us,” Kane said.
Madison only committed five turnovers in the second half, but four of those came in the final two-and-a-half minutes.
Kane and his Madison teammates grabbed the momentum early in the second quarter and kept it for nearly two quarters. Kane scored nine of his 25 points in the second quarter as Madison took a 33-26 halftime lead.
“I think the butterflies in the kids got the best of them,” Hall-Dale Coach Jim Patrick said. “Once they settled down and started playing defense and getting the turnovers, I think the game started going their way.”
Shepherd was on the bench while Madison pushed its lead to 10 in the third quarter. He returned just in time.
“I started making my shots and he took me out,” Shepherd said. “I said ‘oh, man, I can’t wait to get back in to hit my shots.’ and it worked out pretty well.”
Price added 12 points for Madison, while Lawrence and MJ Flanders each scored 10.
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638