By JON REITER
NEW ALBANY —
Host New Albany stormed out to a 17-2 lead after the first 6 minutes and 30 seconds against Jasper Saturday in the Doghouse and cruised to a 60-40 win over the Wildcats.
“I was a little bit concerned that we wouldn’t come out and play hard and that Jasper would get on us, because I knew they do play hard,” New Albany coach Jim Shannon said. “But we did. We controlled the game early with our defense, and for the most part, we have to be pretty happy with where we’re at after this game.”
After Jasper forward Alex Allen sank a short jumper one minute into the contest to give the visitors a 2-0 lead, the Bulldogs rattled off 17 unanswered points over the ensuing 4:16.
The run was capped by a putback from freshman guard Isaac Hibbard that made the score 17-2 with 1:44 remaining in the first quarter.
During the run, New Albany was 7 of 9 from the field and sank three consecutive free throws. They were equally as impressive on defense, forcing 9 Jasper turnovers during the first quarter.
It was the kind of overall effort Shannon said he expects from his squad.
“For the most part, I think we distributed the ball pretty well,” Shannon said. “Last night [in a 66-36 win over Evansville North], we were unselfish with the basketball. Tonight we were unselfish. Hopefully this is something we can continue.”
Ten New Albany players cracked the scoring column in Saturday’s victory. The Bulldogs were led by senior forward Javen Reeves, who finished with 13 points and made one of the most acrobatic plays in recent memory by a local high school player.
With 3:03 remaining in the contest, Reeves dribbled past a Jasper defender at the free throw line and unleashed a left-handed tomahawk slam that elicited a gasp — and then cheers — from the heavily partisan New Albany crowd.
The Bulldogs fell at Jasper last season, 51-46, but knew they would have an advantage this season with players such as Reeves, Dre McBirth and DeAnthony Warren providing superior athletic ability to go along with their basketball skill.
“They got us last season, so I think it was important that we come out and respect the kind of team and program they have,” Shannon said. “I think we did that. The kids were ready to play, and I think took this game seriously. It’s the sign, I think, of a maturing team.”
Jasper (6-7) was led by junior Nolan Ahrens’ 13 points.
New Albany (10-3) is in action next on Friday night when it takes on archrival Providence at the Robert L. Larkin Center.
NEW ALBANY 60, JASPER 40
New Albany 20 14 20 6—60
Jasper 6 13 9 12—40
New Albany (10-3): Leondre McBirth 9, Dustin Cochran 3, Jeff Byrne 7, Nick White 2, Javen Reeves 13, Isaac Hibbard 7, DeAntony Warren 6, Devon Winburn 9, Josh Jefferson 2, Seth Short 2.
Jasper (6-6): Tyler Nottingham 2, Courtland Betz 6, Nolan Ahrens 13, Austin Alles 2, Alex Allen 4, Rhiley Eckert 3, Tyler Begle 4, Kyle McWilliams 2, Hunter Gossett 2, Grant Theil 2.
Rebounds: New Albany 26 (McBirth 5, Warren 5); Jasper 19 (Allen 5).
Free throws: New Albany 7-11, Jasper 15-19.
3-point field goals: New Albany 7 (Winburn 2, Warren, Byrne, Cochran, McBirth, Hibbard); Jasper 1 (Ahrens).
Turnovers: New Albany 8, Jasper 18.