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Clark County Sports

February 7, 2014

H.S. BOYS' BASKETBALL: New Albany holds off Providence, 37-31

Bulldogs comes through in defensive battle

CLARKSVILLE — The rivalry between New Albany and Providence is known for producing surprising results, such as the Pioneers holding the Bulldogs to just 20 points in a victory two seasons ago — the lowest output in Jim Shannon’s 364 games as New Albany coach — or New Albany handing Providence its only loss of the 2004-05 season.

This year’s meeting was no different.

Dustin Cochran scored 13 points and the Bulldog defense did the rest in New Albany’s wild 37-31 victory over host Providence at the Robert I. Larkin Center on Friday night. Despite numerous opportunities — including a crucial technical foul on New Albany’s DeAnthony Warren midway through the fourth quarter — the Pioneers could never snatch the lead away and their struggles at the foul line doomed them to another loss in the series.  

It was the Bulldogs’ sixth win in the last seven meetings, the only blemish being the 50-20 defeat at the hands of the Pioneers in February of 2012. Prior to that, Providence’s last win in the series came in 2007.

The loss also continued Providence’s pattern of following up a win with a loss. After a 5-0 start, the Pioneers fell to Clarksville after a win over Charlestown, then beat Shawe Memorial before losing to Jeffersonville. Providence beat Henryville on Jan. 24, before losing to Silver Creek four days later and entered Friday’s game on the heels of its biggest win of the season — a 54-33 thrashing of Christian Academy of Indiana.

“We didn’t do enough,” Providence coach Lou Lefevre said. “When it came down to the time where you have to make a play to win the game, we couldn’t get it done.”

And there were many, many chances.

Down by eight midway though the third quarter, Providence (9-5) pulled to within six entering the final frame. A timely 3-point play by Nick Hayes got the Pioneers to within a possession when Warren was called for the technical. Hayes made one of the ensuing free throws to make it a two-point game, and Ben Shahroudi’s driving layup rolled off the side of the rim. Providence forced a New Albany turnover to get the ball back, but then Shahroudi got hung up on the land and was called for a three-second violation. Davon Winburn delivered a reverse layup for the Bulldogs to turn back the threat.

Moments later, Providence again pulled to within one at 32-31 after a 3-pointer by Brock Hayden. But a turnover cost Providence its first chance to lead and Hayes’ jump hook grazed the front of the iron.

Still, the Pioneers would have one last chance, getting possession back with 43 seconds to go after Hayes poked the ball away from Cochran. Grant Goad, who had a team-high 12 points and carried the Providence offense for long stretches, went into the lane looking to draw a foul, but the ball went to New Albany’s Jeff Byrne, who tossed a long outlet to a waiting Warren, who laid it in for a 34-31 lead. Goad missed again on the Pioneers last posessesion and Davon Winburn knocked down two free throws to ensure the Bulldog victory.

It was a narrow escape, but one that New Albany coach Jim Shannon felt good about after it was over. The Bulldogs played without leading scorer Leondre McBirth, who was serving a one-game suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules.

“We’re at the point in the season where a loss here doesn’t really do you any good,” said Shannon. “You lose a tight one here and we’re too close to the end [of the season] to spend that time getting back up.

“I thought we were the better team coming in, but this is a tough place to play. They play a little bit of a different style than anyone else. They’re very efficient on offense and they defend well. You have to give them a lot of credit. I thought our kids stepped up and played through some adversity. That’s always good to see.”

After a nip-and-tuck first quarter that saw three ties and New Albany emerge with an 11-10 edge, the Bulldogs flexed their muscles on offense, even without McBerth.

After a floater in the lane by Goad gave the Pioneers a 16-13 lead, New Albany would roll off the next nine points, four of them coming from Cochran, whose pull-up from the foul line made it 22-16 with two minutes before intermission. Bryne added a 3 during the outburst, as the Pioneers went nearly four minutes without a basket. Ben Shahroudi hit a jump shot to make it 22-18 and that’s where it would stay after New Albany held the ball for the last minute, but Cochran missed a 3.

It was a stellar defensive effort for the Pioneers, but Lefevre could only think about the chances that got away.

“We didn’t make the plays,” Lefevre said. “If you want to be a champion, you have to make the play, hit the free throws and we couldn’t do it tonight. You have to ask yourself, ‘are you going to make the plays in order to win?’ and the answer was ‘no.’”

For Shannon, he praised his team’s defensive effort in the second half, as New Albany held Providence to just 13 points over the game’s final 16 minutes.

“At halftime, all nine of the shots they had hit were in the paint,” Shannon said. “So that was a lot of the difference, the fact that we recognized that and did a better job of making them shoot it from outside”

Warren finished with eight points for the Bulldogs, who will follow their great escape by heading back into Hoosier Hills Conference play at Jennings County tonight.

While Goad was the only Pioneer in double figures, Shahroudi had eight points and delivered several fearless drives into the teeth of the New Albany defense in the first half. Providence will travel to South Central on Thursday.

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