SEYMOUR — Throughout the 2013-14 campaign, the New Albany Bulldogs have relied on their seniors in helping them have a successful season.
On Saturday night at Scott Gym, a freshman played a huge role in giving New Albany its first sectional championship since 2011.
Rookie guard Isaac Hibbard scored nine points — including two crucial 3-pointers — in a decisive fourth quarter to help the Bulldogs win their first Class 4A Seymour Sectional title since 2011, beating Jennings County in Saturday’s championship game 55-49.
“We haven’t been here since my freshman year. So it feels real good to be back on top of the mountain,” New Albany senior forward Javen Reeves said. “We feel like this is our house.”
New Albany will return to Scott Gym next Saturday to face Evansville Central (16-6) in the Seymour Regional semifinals. The Bears edged Evansville Harrison in the Evansville North Sectional final, 44-42 on Saturday. The Bulldogs lost at Central 47-44 on Feb. 15.
New Albany (17-6) collected its 49th sectional title in program history. For Bulldogs’ coach Jim Shannon, he is batting .500 in sectional championships in his New Albany tenure. It was his eighth sectional crown in his 16 seasons at the Bulldogs’ helm.
“It’s awesome — awesome,” Shannon said. “I’ve been doing this a long time and it’s never enough. Just when you think, ‘OK, we’ve won four in a row.’ Hey, man, you can lose four in a row, too. It’s a tough sectional.”
“It’s a great feeling,” senior Dustin Cochran added. “This has been our goal our whole entire season — to at least win sectional. At the beginning of the season, no one thought we could make it this far. But we come out every game and play our hardest.”
Hibbard’s two key triples occurred in the first few minutes of the fourth. Following a hook shot by 6-foot-9 Jennings County center Brad Hunt, Hibbard nailed a 3-pointer at the 6:31 mark to put New Albany up 42-35.