News and Tribune

January 9, 2014

TEN TO WATCH: Devils & Dogs

Rivalry game should be best in a while

By GREG MENGELT
greg.mengelt@newstribune.com

CROTHERSVILLE —  New Albany-Jeff is New Albany-Jeff under any circumstance.

However, rarely in the past eight years have the two programs entered the rivalry showdown evenly matched.

Jeff has won the last three meetings by a combined 42 points. Before that, New Albany won 9 of 10.

This year, the Bulldogs enter Friday’s clash at 5-2 and the Red Devils at 6-3 against comparable schedules. There’s no reason not to expect a classic Devil-Dog game on Friday night.

“I think [the two teams] are pretty comparable,” New Albany coach Jim Shannon said. “You’d have to say it should be a pretty good basketball game and it could go either way.”

“It’s going to be a pretty good game,” Jeffersonville’s first-year head coach Matt Pait agreed. “I do think both are evenly matched. I expect it to be a close one. Playing at New Albany is always tough, but I think our guys are ready to go.”

Jeffersonville and New Albany have combined to win 10 of the last 11 Hoosier Hills Conference championships. The two programs have also won 11 of the past 12 Seymour Sectional titles. The Red Devils have won 37 sectional titles and 18 regionals. The Bulldogs have 48 and 16, respectively. Each has won a state title.

The HHC and sectional will likely come down to the two programs again in 2014. It is a rivalry built on proximity. It’s also one built on excellence.

“It’s our rivalry game. It’s the one game of the year, if you had to pick one regular-season game to win, it’s the one you’d pick,” Pait said. “It’s one of those games that’s fun to be a part of. It’s not the end of the world if we lose or the high point if we win. There’s still a lot of season left, but it’s a good measuring stick at this point of the year.”

“It’s probably the biggest rivalry we have,” Shannon said. “It doesn’t make or break our season. The tournament is more important, but [beating Jeff] is second only to the tournament.”

After losing several key players from last year’s 15-8 team, New Albany has certainly been better than most expected in the first part of the 2013-14 season. The Bulldogs opened the season with a big win at Bloomington South and recently knocked off unbeaten teams in back-to-back games (Columbus East 55-51 on Dec. 28 and Evansville Reitz 65-61 last Friday).

“The beginning of the season is the toughest part of our schedule,” Shannon said. “The first [eight] teams we play are as good as we’ll play all year. I do think we’ve played pretty well. We haven’t played perfect. We’ve gone through some adversity, but I think we’re better for it.”

The Red Devils looked strong through seven games. They started 6-1 before losing to Richmond and Fort Wayne North by a combined 42 points on Saturday at the Bob Wettig Memorial Tournament in Richmond.

“Truthfully, I don’t know what to say about the two games on Saturday,” Pait admitted. “I do think it has helped us change our mindset. We’ve got to grow up and learn to fight a little bit. None of our losses have been close. That’s because we stopped fighting. I don’t think we’ve played our best basketball yet.”

Like they were on Saturday, Jeff will likely be short-handed against the Bulldogs. Leading scorer Myles Harvey will likely his sixth straight game after suffering a concussion against Clarksville on Dec. 21. Harvey was shooting for Friday’s contest to make his comeback.

“Unless a miracle happens, I doubt he’s going to play,” Pait said. “We’d really like him to play, but we’re not going to put him out there unless he’s healthy. There’s no reason to rush him back. We have a long road ahead of us. I’d rather have him in March than on Friday.”

 

GAME OF THE WEEK

BOYS — JEFFERSONVILLE (6-3, 2-0 HHC) AT NEW ALBANY (5-2, 3-0 HHC)

• DAY/TIME: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

• RADIO: WXVW-1450 AM, WNAS-88.1 FM, WGTK-970 AM.

• RANKINGS: Jeffersonville — Class 4A No. 20 AP, No. 19 IBCA.

• SERIES ALL-TIME: One team leads 77-76. New Albany believe it does and Jeffersonville believes it does.

• LAST 10 YEARS: New Albany 10-6 (Jeff has won three straight).

• LAST YEAR: At Jeffersonville 70, New Albany 46 (regular season); Jeffersonville 63, New Albany 50 (Sectional Championship).

• REASON TO WATCH: Well, it’s the Devils and Dogs. No other reason is needed. It’s one of the state’s biggest and most important rivalries. New Albany or Jeffersonville has won 10 of the last 11 Hoosier Hills Conference titles and 11 of the last 12 Seymour Sectional crowns. After New Albany’s win over Columbus East last week, one is likely to win the HHC this season. The two seem to also be head and shoulders above the rest of the sectional competition, as well.

• ANALYSIS: With the Myles Harvey injury and the homecourt advantage, New Albany has to be considered a favorite to end its three-game losing streak to the Devils.

• THE PICK: New Albany 68, Jeffersonville 64.

 

THURSDAY

GIRLS — CHARLESTOWN (8-2) AT JEFFERSONVILLE (9-4)

• TIME: 7:30 p.m.

• SERIES ALL-TIME: Jeffersonville 27-7.

• LAST 10 YEARS: Jeff 2-1 (Jeff has won 12 of last 13).

• LAST YEAR: At Charlestown 48, Jeffersonville 43.

• REASON TO WATCH: Lots of storylines. Charlestown is a stunning 8-2 under first-year coach Michael Prichard. Jeff is a stunning 9-4 (two wins more than last season already) under first-year coach Mike Warren. The Pirates have already beaten Corydon, Scottsburg, Floyd Central and Silver Creek twice. Jeff has a win over Kentucky’s No. 2 team. These are the two surprises of Southern Indiana and this should be a great game.

• ANALYSIS: If not for New Albany-Jeff and Providence-Clarksville, this could be the Game of the Week. Who would have thought that at the beginning of the season? Jeff’s proven to be very strong and is 5-0 at home. That’s enough to pick the Devils.

• THE PICK: Jeffersonville 55, Charlestown 46.

 

GIRLS — SILVER CREEK (3-9) AT BORDEN (8-1)

• TIME: 7:30 p.m.

• RANKINGS: Borden — Class A No. 11 ICGSA.

• LAST 10 YEARS: Silver Creek 5-1.

• LAST YEAR: At Silver Creek 56, Borden 41.

• REASON TO WATCH: Despite five more wins in three fewer games, this contest should be more competitive than the records indicate. It’s a road win Creek could use for its confidence.

• ANALYSIS: Borden’s coming off its first loss to an underrated Salem team. This game could go either way, but I’m leaning toward the Braves at home.

• THE PICK: Borden 49, Silver Creek 43.

 

GIRLS — MADISON (7-1, 3-1 HHC) AT NEW ALBANY (3-8, 0-2 HHC)

• TIME: 7:30 p.m.

• RANKINGS: Madison — Class 3A No. 8 ICGSA.

• LAST 10 YEARS: New Albany 7-3 (New Albany has won 4 of the last 6).

• LAST YEAR: At Madison 68, New Albany 57.

• REASON TO WATCH: New Albany’s tough schedule continues against the 7-1 Cubs. The Bulldogs have won two of their last four, including a 32-23 win over Brebeuf, and a close loss at Evansville Harrison.

• ANALYSIS: Madison is as good as any team the Bulldogs have faced since a 60-44 loss to No. 1 BNL. The Cubs are big, strong and skilled.

• THE PICK: Madison 60, New Albany 49.



FRIDAY

GIRLS — PROVIDENCE (10-3) AT CLARKSVILLE (3-9)

• TIME: 6 p.m.

• RANKINGS: Providence — Class 2A No. 14 ICGSA.

• LAST 10 YEARS: Providence 13-9.

• LAST MEETING: Providence 53, Clarksville 50 (Charlestown Holiday Tournament, first round).

• REASON TO WATCH: Clarksville proved that it’s capable of competing with good teams in a close loss to the Pioneers in the holiday tournament. Providence is closing in on its first winning season in a decade.

• ANALYSIS: Conventional wisdom would say that the Generals have an opportunity for an upset at home after playing Providence so close on a neutral court last week. I expect the young Pioneers will take Clarksville more seriously and play much better.

• THE PICK: Providence 60, Clarksville 46.

 

BOYS — PROVIDENCE (6-1) AT CLARKSVILLE (7-1)

• TIME: 7:30 p.m.

• RADIO: WNDA-1570 AM.

• RANKINGS: Providence — Class 2A No. 8 AP; Clarksville — Class 2A No. 4 AP.

• LAST 10 YEARS: Providence 14-5.

• LAST MEETING: Clarksville 49, Providence 46 (Silver Creek Holiday Tournament, first round).

• REASON TO WATCH: Every Clarksville-Providence game turns into an instant classic. Last week’s 49-46 General victory was no exception. Why should we expect anything different on Friday. Providence coach Lou Lefevre has proven to be one of Southern Indiana’s best coaches. Jason Connell is becoming part of that conversation.

• ANALYSIS: Clarksville will probably be a little too much at home. The March meeting Paoli could be a different story.

• THE PICK: Clarksville 57, Providence 50.



SATURDAY

GIRLS — CHARLESTOWN (8-2, 3-1 MSC) AT BROWNSTOWN CENTRAL (11-, 5-0 MSC)

• TIME: 1:30 p.m.

• LAST 10 YEARS: Brownstown 8-7 (Brownstown has won 6 of the last 7 meetings).

• LAST YEAR: At Charlestown 44, Brownstown 36.

• REASON TO WATCH: The MSC title could be on the line. The winner could be the in driver’s seat.

• ANALYSIS: Last year, the Pirates turned their season around with a big win over the Braves. This year, Charlestown has been much stronger in the first half of the season. So has Brownstown.

• THE PICK: Brownstown Central 61, Charlestown 59.

 

BOYS — BORDEN (7-1) AT SILVER CREEK (5-2)

• TIME: 7:30 p.m.

• RANKINGS: Borden — Class A No. 3 AP.

• LAST 10 YEARS: Silver Creek 2-0.

• LAST YEAR: Silver Creek 60, at Borden 51.

• REASON TO WATCH: After a long layoff, the rivalry has resumed. This year both teams enter with strong resumes. This should be one of the weekend’s most competitive games.

• ANALYSIS: Last year, Silver Creek beat the eventual state champions on their home floor. This year the game is in Sellersburg and the Dragons should certainly be considered the favorites after their 5-2 start.

• THE PICK: Silver Creek 68, Borden 60.

 

GIRLS — NEW ALBANY (3-8, 0-2 HHC) AT FLOYD CENTRAL (4-7, 0-3 HHC)

• TIME: 7:30 p.m.

• RADIO: WNAS-88.1 FM, WFIA-94.7 FM.

• LAST 10 YEARS: New Albany 8-4.

• LAST YEAR: At New Albany 69, Floyd Central 64 (2OT).

• REASON TO WATCH: It’s Floyd County’s biggest girls’ basketball rivalry. The records aren’t great, but a win on Saturday could begin to change the fortunes for either team.

• ANALYSIS: Floyd Central is a disappointing 4-7, but the Highlanders are too talented not to beat the Bulldogs at home.

• THE PICK: Floyd Central 65, New Albany 55.

 

TUESDAY

BOYS — ROCK CREEK (5-5) AT CHARLESTOWN (1-6)

• TIME: 7:30 p.m.

• LAST 10 YEARS: Charlestown 3-2 (Charlestown has won two straight).

• LAST YEAR: Charlestown 54, at Rock Creek 50.

• REASON TO WATCH: Rock Creek may be a sectional contender after all. The Lions scored 110 points in one game and beat their third ranked team at the Richmond Wettig Tournament. A win at Charlestown could be another big one.

• ANALYSIS: Rock Creek has a ton of talent and athleticism. The Lions lack a little skill and experience. They could use a big road win.

• THE PICK: Rock Creek 70, Charlestown 65.