By PATRICK CASEY
Freshman guard Mason Hall scored 26 points as Freeport got off to a hot start, then held on, for a 59-52 win on Senior Night on Friday in a game against the Ponce de Leon Pirates.
Hall and Ryder Newman scored 22 points in the first quarter as the host squad jumped out to a 26-9 lead after the first eight minutes of the game.
The Pirates began to chip back into the contest in the second quarter as eight different players contributed to the scoring to trim the margin to 32-21 at intermission.
The Bulldogs settled down in the third quarter as they got shots from behind the arc from Hall and Matthew Spence to go with baskets on the interior from Newman, Noahh Cole and Dillon Bates to hold a 44-34 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
The Pirates got within 53-50 late in the game as junior Zach Johnson scored nine of his 14 points over the last eight minutes to give the visiting team a chance to snatch a win in the fourth meeting between the two teams during the 2013-14 season.
Freeport would not give up the lead, however, as coach David Felix burned three timeouts in the final quarter that led to his team outscoring the Pirates 6-2 down the stretch to capture the win and improve to 7-18 at the close of the regular season.
The Bulldogs were helped by their shooting from the field as they canned 23-of-46 shot attempts to only 19-of-67 for the Pirates.
Ponce de Leon (8-14) got nine points from Dalton Thames and eight from Ryan Singletary in the loss as the Pirates split four games with the Bulldogs, losing twice in Freeport while posting wins in PDL and at Paxton.
Newman finished the night with 14 points for the Bulldogs while Dillon Bates added 10 of his own.
Freeport will host Jay in an opening round District 3, Class A tournament contest on Feb. 4 while coach Brad Alford will take his Pirates to Central for an opening round meeting with the Jaguars on the same night. Should either team win, they would advance to a Friday night semi-final. Freeport would face tournament host Chipley while PDL would square off against Malone in Bethlehem.
Team Notes: PDL holds a 22-21 edge in the series since the 1992-93 season. The Pirates eight wins are equal to their total the past four seasons combined. Freeport had only three wins in 2012-13. Freeport senior Josh Calhoun was honored before the game. Freeport has won six of its seven games on its home floor.
By PATRICK CASEY