By JON REITER
NEW ALBANY —
After nailing six out of 10 three-point attempts in helping the host New Albany Bulldogs to the verge of a win against archrival Providence, it was guard Josh Rogers’ two free throws with five seconds remaining that secured the 52-48 victory for his squad on Friday night at The Doghouse.
Rogers’ free throws came after he watched teammates Garrett Arnold and Anthony Edwards miss four consecutive free throws inside the final 30 seconds of the contest.
New Albany (9-6) led 44-33 with 1:57 remaining in regulation. But Providence charged back and had the opportunity to tie it when Dalton Duley’s short jumper missed the mark after a botched New Albany inbounds play with less than 10 seconds remaining.
Following the miss, Rogers grabbed the rebound and his two free throws led to the hard-fought win for the Bulldogs.
“The kids did a really great job tonight,” said New Albany coach Jim Shannon, who has won 13 of 15 contests against Providence as head coach and avenged a 30-point loss to the Pioneers last season. “That is a very good ball team [Providence]. It was a 13- to 15-point win for us that turned into a barnburner because we didn’t make our free throws.”
In the comeback, Pioneer guard Cory Cahalan scored six points over the final two minutes, including a bomb from 30 feet out that made the score 50-46 with 37.4 seconds remaining. Following Edwards’ two missed free throws, Duley followed up a miss by George Knott with a tip-in that cut the margin to 50-48 with 15 seconds left.
In the scrum following the basket and New Albany inbounds play, Duley found himself with the basketball and missed the short jumper that led to the Rogers rebound.
The shooting of Duley, Cahalan and Nano Grantz, however, kept the Pioneers in the ballgame. Duley’s 15 points led Class 2A No. 4 Providence (13-3) and Grantz and Cahalan added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
New Albany focused its defensive effort on stopping the two Pioneer post players, Knott and Ryan Pickerrell. Pickerrell fouled out after scoring six points, and Knott could never get on track either, scoring four points on 1-of-6 shooting from the field — well below both of their averages.
“That’s a credit to the kids,” Shannon said. “They really did a nice job — Josh particularly. His thing is baseball [Rogers is a University of Louisville signee as a left-handed pitcher], and he’s giving up some size and a lot of experience to Knott — a lot. He really did a great job and rose to the challenge.”
Providence coach Lou Lefevre agreed that New Albany’s strong defensive effort on Knott was a key.
“They were going to make it tough for George to get those opportunities one-on-one,” Lefevre said. “They were doubling on him ... and our job is to find where that’s coming from and to find the open person for an easy chance and we weren’t able to do that. He ended up trying to make a lot of tough shots he wasn’t able to cash in.”
It was still a gutsy effort to come back by Providence, which didn’t quite get there at the end but provided many anxious moments for the Bulldog faithful. But Lefevre didn’t quite view it that way.
“If you’re down by 11 points with a few minutes left, it means you really got outplayed for most of the game,” he said. “In the [Jeffersonville] game we were down 10 [Providence lost 59-56 to the Red Devils on Jan. 12] and came back, and here we were down 10 and came back. There’s nothing good about that. We came back and we tried, but it doesn’t change the fact that we got outplayed.”
New Albany’s Jermaine Parrish nearly matched Rogers’ output with 18 points, and the senior guard netted 14-of-18 from the free-throw line.
New Albany will turn around and host Hoosier Hills Conference foe Jennings County at 7:30 tonight.
“We’re going to let the kids enjoy this one [Friday], because we haven’t beaten an upper-echelon team before [Friday],” Shannon said. “I told them that [today] we have to be ready because Jennings is a very nice ballclub.”
Providence will host South Central on Thursday night.