By CHRIS STONER
FLOYDS KNOBS —
New Albany won its first game of 2014 with a hard fought 54-46 win Saturday night over arch-rival Floyd Central.
The Bulldogs never trailed and held the host Highlanders to 32 percent shooting for their fourth straight win the series.
“Overall, I thought we played a very good ballgame tonight,” New Albany head coach Tammy Geron said. “I thought we played hard and went after it. We executed our game plan very well on the defensive end of the floor. I’m really proud of my kids for their defensive effort.”
The Dogs (4-9, 1-3 HHC) held Floyd scoreless over the opening four minutes of the contest and led 10-6 at the first stop. Brianne Nixon put in nine first half points to power her squad to a 30-21 halftime advantage.
“We talked about rebounding a lot at halftime,” said Highlanders head coach Kirk Hamsley, whose team was out-boarded 21-14 in the first half. “We felt like that was the biggest thing. I thought they were very, very physical in the half court taking us out of what we wanted to do. We talked about how to deal with that better.”
The stingy Bulldog defense held Floyd to 3 of 14 shooting and the visitors pushed its lead to 11 entering the final period. New Albany led 45-33 with 6:23 remaining in the game before the home team made its final push.
The Highlanders (4-8, 0-4) ripped off a 13-2 run capped by two Madison Kaiser free throws with 1:14 left to pull within 47-46. That, however, would be as close as Floyd would get as New Albany hit just enough free throws down the stretch to secure its first Hoosier Hills Conference win of the season.
“I think we just got a little stiff,” Geron said of the fourth quarter. “We talked about in a timeout there late that we were playing not to lose instead of to win. We haven’t played from ahead too much this season, so we’re still learning how to manage the game with a lead, but at the same time, go win the ballgame.”
Madison Kaiser had seven of her 13 in the final frame to power Floyd’s comeback bid. Riley Kaiser scored nine despite battling and illness. Abbie Engle led all scorers with 14.
“Brooke’s coming off a sprained ankle and Riley has strepped throat,” Hamsley said of Hinton. “She’s been in and out of practice the last 48 hours. Those aren’t excuses. That’s just what we were dealing with tonight. We were just trying to piece mail things together.”
New Albany is back in action Wednesday night when it hosts South Oldham (Ky.). Floyd Central next hits the hardwood Thursday hosting Presentation Academy (Ky.).
NEW ALBANY 54, FLOYD CENTRAL 46
Floyd Central 10 20 10 14—46
New Albany 6 15 8 17—54
New Albany (4-9, 1-3 HHC): Colleen Atkins4 , Jenna Shine 3, Brianne Nixon 11, Lauren Camm 6, Aalliyah Bell 1, Ashley Lyninger 8, Brittany Knight 12, Claire Hirsch 4, Jessica Knight 5.
Floyd Central (4-8, 0-4): Madison Kaiser 13, Brooke Hinton 2, Riley Kaiser 9, Abbie Engle 14, Maddie Probus 4, Brianna Roth 4.
3-point field goals: New Albany 4 (Shine, B. Knight 2, J. Knight), Floyd Central 0.
Rebounds: New Albany 33, Floyd Central 31.
Turnovers: New Albany 17, Floyd Central 16.
Field-goal shooting: New Albany 13-34, Floyd Central 15-46.
3-point field goal shooting: New Albany 4-13, Floyd Central 0-9.
Free throw shooting: New Albany 24-35, Floyd Central 16-16.