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Clark County Sports

January 10, 2014

H.S. BOYS' BASKETBALL: New Albany snaps three-game losing streak to Jeff

McBirth scores 19 for Bulldogs; teammates Cochran, Reeves each score in double digits

NEW ALBANY — Entering Friday night’s 154th edition of the Jeffersonville-New Albany rivalry game, the Red Devils had a three-game winning streak in the all-time series and won 18 consecutive Hoosier Hills Conference contests.

The archrival Bulldogs decided that was enough.

New Albany stayed in first place in the HHC with a 67-56 win over Jeff. It was the Bulldogs’ first triumph over the Red Devils the first round of the 2011 Class 4A Seymour Sectional.

According to the series records by Jeff athletics historian Pat Hennegan, the all-time series is now tied at 77.

“I think anytime the other team has had their way with you the last couple of years, it’s time for some guys to step up and we really felt like that we did,” New Albany coach Jim Shannon said. “But in fairness to Jeffersonville, they played a great game, too. It was a really close game all the way down to the two-minute mark. We were able to hold on to it at that end.

“It’s vital for the conference title to win that game tonight. So we’re in the driver’s seat.”

The Red Devils (6-4, 2-1 HHC) lost their third consecutive game. It is their first three-game losing skid since they dropped their first two contests of the 2010-11 season and the opener of the 2011-12 campaign.

“It’s just one of those things that we’ve got to learn from,” said Jeff coach Matt Pait, who lost his first Jeff-New Albany game as the Red Devils’ boss. “It’s not the end of the world. But we’ve got to start getting the ship going in the right direction. And if not, we’re going to have to play some younger guys.”

The key quarter was the third when Jeff went ice cold.

Trailing 29-28 at halftime, the Red Devils made only two of their 11 field-goal attempts in the period and scored just seven points. That enabled New Albany (6-2, 4-0) to extend its lead to 42-35.

Pait said his players simply did not work together on offense.

“My biggest concern with our offense in the second half is we couldn’t run a play all the way through,” Pait said. “We had guys going on their own. We just did not execute a play all the way through. When we did, we got what we wanted.”

Shannon said the Bulldogs did a good job of stopping Jeff’s dribble-drives to the basket.

“I think defensively we did a pretty good job of not letting them get to the rim,” Shannon said. “When they get to the rim, they’re awfully good. You are not going to stop them. [Myles] Harvey, [Keenan] Williams and [Drew] Ellis are so good at finishing. But we thought they were weak at a couple of guard spots and we wanted to take advantage of that.”

The Red Devils got within 54-50 with 1:40 left in regulation when Ellis nailed a 3-pointer.

But the Bulldogs put the game away with a 9-0 run to go up 63-50, as they got all their points at the free-throw line during that spurt.

Leondre McBirth led New Albany with a game-high 19 points, as he was 3-of-7 from 3-point range.

Shannon got two big games from Bulldog seniors Dustin Cochran and Javen Reeves. Cochran had 15 points and three assists, while Reeves scored 12 points and got kudos for his work on defense.

“[Cochran] was the best point guard on the floor tonight. There was no doubt about that,” Shannon said. “Javen played great as far as being up against their better players [defensively]. Then on the other end, he took advantage of slicing and dicing and getting some layups and making some free throws. I thought [New Albany’s] DeAnthony Warren came off the bench and played fantastic for us, and he gave us some quality minutes.”

Ellis paced the Red Devils with 18 points and a game-high nine rebounds.

Harvey, who was playing in his first game since he suffered a head injury at Clarksville on Dec. 21, had 16 points and seven rebounds.

“I thought Myles did a pretty good job for most of the game,” Pait said. “But I thought he got a little selfish on a couple of shots. Myles is an unselfish player, but sometimes he thinks he can put the team on his back and carry his team to victory when he has four other guys on the floor.”

Williams finished with 11 points and five boards.

Both teams are off before HHC road games next Friday. The Red Devils will travel to Floyd Central, while the Bulldogs will visit Madison.

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