AUGUSTA — Alec Byron and his Hall-Dale teammates heard the talk.

That the third-ranked Bulldogs weren’t going to beat second-seeded Waynflete in their Class C South semifinal Thursday night at the Augusta Civic Center.

But they overcame a slow start and surged in the second half before holding on for a 65-58 victory.

Byron scored 23 points, and Ashtyn Abbott had a big second half and had 17 as Hall-Dale (19-1) set up a regional final with top-ranked Winthrop (19-1) at 8:45 p.m. Saturday at Augusta.

“I’m pretty emotional right now,” said Byron. “I heard so much chatter about how we wouldn’t get by Waynflete, that we had the toughest bracket, that our season was going to be over. I told myself this morning, ‘There’s no way I’m ending my career today. I want to keep going.’ We came out and played as a unit, and we pulled it out.”

Waynflete tried to deliver an early knockout blow, getting a 3-pointer from Finn Scott and a pair of layups from Askar Houssein to go up 13-5, but Hall-Dale pulled within 18-15 on Abbott’s 3 before the end of the period.

In the second quarter, Diraige Dahia gave the Flyers a five-point edge but the Bulldogs rallied to go ahead on a Bryon layup. There were three lead changes and three ties in the quarter before Patrick Rush foul shots and another from Tim Cookson gave Hall-Dale a 32-30 halftime lead.

Abbott took over in the third, helping the Bulldogs get separation. He scored on a layup, a putback, then another layup to stretch the lead to 43-35.

Late in the period, Scott banked in a 3 and Waynflete had a chance to make it a one-possession game, but missed two shots in close.Just before the horn, an off-balance, contested shot from Josh Nadeau dropped to put Hall-Dale up 51-44.

The Bulldogs still led by seven with just over two minutes left, but Houssein banked home a long 3 while being fouled and added the free throw.

The Flyers then had two looks at a game-tying 3 but couldn’t convert, and Abbott, Byron and Austin Stebbins closed it at the foul line.

“We had Monmouth, a very strong six seed, then Waynflete of course, and those are two tough hurdles just to make it to the C South final,” said Hall-Dale Coach Chris Ranslow.

Waynflete (15-3) got 13 points from Scott, 12 from Houssein and 10 from Soloman Levy.

“I wish we could have those (tying) 3s back,” said Coach Rich Henry. “I wish we did a little more getting the ball inside first, but that’s the mindset that occurs in these games.

“The guys gave their all. There’s a level of frustration of getting to this point and not being able to get over the hump. Hopefully that frustration carries over to next year.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.