By KEVIN HARRIS
When a team is battling for a conference championship, it has to find a way to pull out victories on the road.
The New Albany Bulldogs did just that on Friday night at Salm Gymnasium.
New Albany ended the 54-51 victory on a 9-3 run to down host Madison in a crucial Hoosier Hills Conference contest. The Bulldogs (7-2) improved to 5-0 in the league. They need to collect HHC victories at Jennings County on Feb. 8 and at home versus Bedford North Lawrence on Feb. 21 to capture their first conference championship since 2010. First-place New Albany is now two games ahead of second-place Columbus East (2-1 HHC).
“We beat a really good basketball team — I mean a really good basketball team — on the road basically to put us in the lead of the conference at 5-0,” Shannon said. “The pressure was on us and I thought we handled it really well.”
Trailing 48-45 with 2:40 left in the regulation, Leondre McBirth and Davon Winburn hit back-to-back buckets to put the Bulldogs up 49-48 with about 1:30 remaining.
Shortly after Cubs’ center Tyler Manaugh missed a shot underneath the basket, senior Javen Reeves knocked down both ends of a one-and-one to put New Albany up 51-48 with 27 seconds left.
After Madison forward Carson Wattenbarger could not connect on a shot in the low post, Winburn got the rebound and then hit the front end of a one-and-one to give the Bulldogs’ 52-48 with 13.2 ticks remaining.
With around five seconds left, Cubs’ junior Nick Macon nailed a 3-pointer to slice the New Albany lead to 52-51.
But Winburn iced the win with 1.6 seconds left by hitting a pair of free throws.
“We defended really well at the end of the game,” Shannon said. “Early in the game, it was not a defensive battle. Both teams got off to a great offensive start. But in the second half, I think both teams settled down offensively and started playing really good defense. We certainly played excellent defense in the last two or three minutes of the game, and then we came up with some big offensive plays at the end.”
The Bulldogs have gotten some key production from their bench this season, and on Friday it came from Winburn.
The 6-foot-1 junior guard scored 12 points, with nine coming in the second half. He also shared team-high rebounding honors with McBirth and fellow reserve DeAnthony Warren with six rebounds.
“Davon Winburn came up big for us,” Shannon said. “He played a complete game.”
McBirth, New Albany’s leading scorer, ended with a team-high 13 points, despite shooting 6 of 15 from the field.
“I think they played really good defense on ‘Dre tonight, and then their help [defense] was excellent,” Shannon said. “They had a great defensive plan and they had a chance to win like we had a chance to win. We just happened to come out with the victory.”
Also for the Bulldogs, Reeves and senior guard Dustin Cochran each scored eight points. Reeves also did a good job of defending Cubs’ sharpshooting guard Landon Perry, who scored just 11 points.
Macon led Madison (7-2, 2-2 HHC) with 21 points on 9 of 13 shooting from the field. Wattenbarger had eight points and a game-high nine rebounds. Manaugh also tallied eight points.
New Albany will host Scottsburg (5-5) tonight at The Doghouse.
NEW ALBANY 54, MADISON 51
New Albany 18 10 11 15—54
Madison 19 9 12 11—51
New Albany (7-2, 5-0 HHC): Leondre McBirth 6-15 0-0 13, Davon Winburn 4-9 4-5 12, Dustin Cochran 3-7 0-0 8, Javen Reeves 2-4 4-4 8, Jeff Byrne 2-7 0-0 5, Nick White 2-2 1-1 5, DeAnthony Warren 1-6 0-0 3, Isaac Hibbard 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 20-53 9-10 54.
Madison (7-2, 2-2): Nick Macon 9-13 0-0 21, Landon Perry 4-8 0-2 11, Tyler Manaugh 4-5 0-0 8, Carson Wattenbarger 2-9 4-6 8, Alex Weaver 1-2 0-0 2, Kyle Tucker 0-1 1-4 1, Willie Huffman 0-1 0-0 0, Tanner Sauley 0-0 0-0 0, Mitchell Seng 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-39 5-12 51.
3-point field goals: New Albany 6-18 (Cochran 2-5, Winburn 1-1, Warren 1-2, Byrne 1-3, McBirth 1-5, Hibbard 0-2); Madison 6-10 (Perry 3-3, Macon 3-5, Tucker 0-1, Wattenbarger 0-1).
Rebounds: New Albany 33 (McBirth, Warren, Winburn 6); Madison 25 (Wattenbarger 9).
Assists: New Albany 7 (Cochran 3); Madison 7 (Wattenbarger 3).
Steals: New Albany 3 (McBirth 2); Madison 5 (Macon, Perry, Sauley, Tucker, Wattenbarger 1).
Blocked shots: New Albany 0; Madison 1 (Manaugh 1).
Turnovers: New Albany 10, Madison 10.
Total fouls: New Albany 11, Madison 14.
Fouled out: none.
JV: New Albany 40-35.