By JON REITER
NEW ALBANY —
A night after the New Albany Bulldogs crushed visiting rival Floyd Central 88-37 in the Doghouse, it appeared they were ready to lay a similar beatdown to Corydon Central at home.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 20-3 lead over the first seven minutes of the contest, and while they didn’t completely take the Panthers to the woodshed, they still captured a fairly comfortable 63-46 win last night.
“Sometimes these games after a rivalry game are tough, because it’s harder to get up for them,” New Albany (3-2) coach Jim Shannon said. “Still, Corydon is a pretty good basketball team, and I think it was a decent performance.”
New Albany came out of the locker room on fire, nailing seven of its first nine shots, with the 20-3 run capped by a 17-footer from guard Leondre McBirth with 1:02 remaining in the first quarter.
Throughout the second quarter, the Bulldogs let Corydon Central, which began the contest going 1-of-8 shooting, back into the game.
The Panthers ended the first half on an 8-0 run over the final 2 minutes and 38 seconds. With time ticking down in the half, Corydon guard Tom Wiseman made a steal at midcourt and fed Tyler Ross for a layup as time expired to narrow the margin to 29-22 at intermission.
“We made some mental mistakes and let down a bit at the end of the first half, and then again in the third quarter,” Shannon said. “I think we responded a lot better in the third quarter than we did towards the end of the first half.”
Brayden Lander led Corydon with 16 points and Ross, a 6-foot-3 senior forward, fiinished with 14. Bronson Kessinger, a 6-8 sophomore forward who is said to be a recruiting target of several Division I schools, only scored two points in the first half and finished with eight points and three rebounds.
Shannon praised the performance of 6-5 senior center Anthony Edwards, who finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and said his defense on Kessinger and overall active play was responsible for limiting the Corydon star.
“I just thought he outplayed Kessinger for most of the game,” Shannon said. “He was pretty aggressive and really rebounded the basketball well. If he can play like that for us throughout the season, we are going to be a much better team for it.”
Corydon came to within single digits, 44-36, when Tim Wiseman hit a turnaround jumper on their opening possession of the fourth quarter, but two 3-point plays by Edwards on subsequent possessions pushed the margin to 50-36 with just over six minutes left in the game, effectively putting Corydon away.
New Albany also received notable contributions from forward Garrett Arnold and guards McBirth and Jermaine Parrish.
On two New Albany offensive possessions during the fourth quarter, Arnold juked Corydon defenders along the baseline and scored easy baskets inside, one of which drew applause from Shannon and the other coaches on the bench.
“He’s having an outstanding senior season for us,” Shannon said. “We’re going to hope that he continues his good play.”
New Albany continues Hoosier Hills Conference play next Friday night when the Bulldogs to Seymour to take on the Owls.