By KEVIN HARRIS
On Friday night at The Doghouse, the New Albany Bulldogs bolted out to an early double-digit lead and then held on to defeat Evansville Reitz, 65-61.
On Saturday night at Castle Gym, they got the tables turned on them.
Castle took a 10-point lead in the first quarter and then managed to make enough plays in the final period to down the Bulldogs, 51-46. The Knights (6-3) ended New Albany’s three-game winning streak as the Bulldogs recorded a season-low scoring output.
“I felt like that both teams played hard. I just felt they played a lot smarter than we did, especially at the end of the game,” New Albany coach Jim Shannon said. “I think we played hard. I just think it all boiled down to that we just did not execute when we needed to. When it got to crunch time, we just didn’t execute.”
Castle took its first 10-point advantage at 13-3 late in the opening period when 6-foot-5 junior Steven Pergola nailed a 3-pointer. With the Knights up 22-15 with 2:48 left in the second quarter, New Albany (5-2) scored six points in a row to trim its deficit to one.
Castle, though, squashed that momentum with back-to-back 3-point plays at the end of the half by Pergola and senior guard Cayman Meier to take a 28-21 halftime lead.
After the Knights got the lead back up to 10 at 33-23 early in the third, the Bulldogs seemed to get rolling.
New Albany concluded the stanza with a 14-3 run to go up 37-36. It was the Bulldogs’ first lead since 2-0.
New Albany led 46-44 with about three minutes remaining in regulation when junior Davon Winburn hit a pair of free throws.
Those were the final points the Bulldogs would score.
Knights’ senior forward Clay Seitz made a steal and a layup to deadlock the game at 46. Following a charging foul on New Albany senior guard Leondre McBirth, sophomore Mitchel Gibson knocked down a 3 off an assist from senior Devyn Johnston to put Castle up 49-46.
After New Albany committed a turnover with 17.9 seconds left, Gibson hit both ends of a 1-and-1 with 6.7 ticks remaining to seal the victory.
“We made some plays that weren’t very well thought out,” Shannon said about the Bulldogs’ fourth-quarter performance. “We just chucked it around the gymnasium and turned it over. They were pretty good at executing down the stretch. They ran their offense and got what they wanted. We just dribbled it around until we threw it away or took a bad shot. So we’ll learn from it and get better. We still had a good weekend.
“We kind of got ourselves down a little bit and we couldn’t crawl out of it. But you know in fairness to both teams, I thought we did get back into the game, which was a credit to us. But it was also a credit to them because they kept us from winning at the end.”
The Bulldogs’ bench accounted for 67.4 percent of their team’s offense. New Albany freshman reserve Isaac Hibbard scored a game-high 15 points on 6 of 7 shooting from the floor. Hibbard was 3 of 3 from 3-point range.
New Albany junior forward DeAnthony Warren had 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds off the bench. McBirth tallied 12 points in a starting role, but shot only 5 of 16 from the field and 1 of 6 from the stripe.
Shannon praised the effort he got off the pine from Hibbard, Warren and Winburn.
“I thought DeAnthony Warren played great. I thought Hibbard played great, and I thought Davon Winburn gave us some good minutes,” Shannon said. “So those were three positives we can take away from this. Those three guys really stepped up and played.”
Johnston and Pergola each scored a team-high 12 points. Pergola grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, while Johnston dished out a game-high four assists. Gibson, the son of Knights’ coach Brian Gibson, had 10 points and five boards.
Meier, who is Castle’s leading scorer, was held to just nine points thanks to the defensive work of New Albany senior Javen Reeves.
“We were struggling on offense obviously, but our defense was struggling also,” Shannon said. “Javen did such a great job on Meier, but some of our other kids didn’t do a great job on their secondary people. [Pergola] was able to shake loose and hurt us. [Johnston] just absolutely annihilated us. He was just taking our guards to the rim and just laying it over them.”
New Albany will host archrival Jeffersonville this coming Friday.
CASTLE 51, NEW ALBANY 46
New Albany 10 11 16 9—46
Castle 15 13 8 15—51
New Albany (5-2): Isaac Hibbard 6-7 0-0 15, Leondre McBirth 5-16 1-6 12, DeAnthony Warren 5-11 1-2 12, Davon Winburn 0-1 4-4 4, Javen Reeves 1-2 0-0 2, Nick White 0-0 1-2 1, Jeff Byrne 0-3 0-0 0, Dustin Cochran 0-2 0-0 0, Isaiah Hickman 0-0 0-0 0, Josh Jefferson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-42 7-14 46.
Castle (6-3): Devyn Johnston 5-5 2-4 12, Steven Pergola 4-9 2-3 12, Mitchel Gibson 3-4 3-4 10, Cayman Meier 3-15 1-1 9, Clay Seitz 3-5 0-0 6, Heath Evans 1-1 0-1 2, Jace Parus 0-1 0-0 0, Will Randell 0-0 0-0 0, Jacob Schutte 0-0 0-0 0, Sean Seniour 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-40 8-13 51.
3-point field goals: New Albany 5-16 (Hibbard 3-3, Warren 1-2, McBirth 1-7, Byrne 0-2, Cochran 0-2); Castle 5-14 (Pergola 2-4, Meier 2-8, Gibson 1-2).
Rebounds: New Albany 29 (Warren 7); Castle 25 (Pergola 9).
Assists: New Albany 4 (Winburn 2); Castle 11 (Johnston 4).
Steals: New Albany 5 (McBirth 2); Castle 7 (Johnston 2).
Blocked shots: New Albany 1 (Warren); Castle 1 (Gibson).
Turnovers: New Albany 12, Castle 11.
Team fouls: New Albany 17, Castle 11.
Fouled out: None.
Technical fouls: None.
JV: New Albany 38, Castle 35.