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January 25, 2014

H.S. GIRLS’ BASKETBALL: Warren leads Devils in come-from-behind victory in return to Doghouse

Stingy D helps Jeff’s 17-4 fourth quarter run

NEW ALBANY — Though winter weather has wreaked havoc on the local sports calandar, the New Albany girls’ basketball team was well on its way to avoiding the deep freeze and claiming yet another victory over its biggest rival.

That’s when the Red Devils brought the blizzard.

Down by nine points late in the third quarter, Jeffersonville used a stout defensive effort as the catalyst, holding the host Bulldogs to just four fourth-quarter points in a 47-38 victory at The Doghouse on Friday night.

It was a crucial win that allowed Jeffersonville (12-5, 3-2 HHC) to not only stay above .500 in the HHC race, but also snap a two-game losing streak in its rivalry with New Albany (6-10, 2-4 HHC). The Red Devils had not beaten New Albany since February 11, 2011, posting a win in the sectional semifinals en route to a Class 4A state championship.

“It’s not just any game, and everyone knows that,” said Jeffersonville coach Mike Warren, who had a personal stake in the victory. He was an assistant under New Albany boys’ coach Jim Shannon for nine seasons. “It meant a lot to me personally, coming back after all the time I spent here. It’s a conference opponent, a sectional opponent. It means a lot.”

It meant a lot to the Bulldogs, too.

After trailing for much of the first half, New Albany blasted out of the locker room with a 14-3 run that ran for nearly six minutes of the third quarter. A 3-pointer from Brittany Knight gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the second half and another trey — this one from Marissa Jones — gave New Albany its biggest lead to that point at 27-22.

That’s when New Albany sophomore Jenna Shine delivered the biggest blows of what was shaping up to be another classic in the rivalry. The second of Shine’s two 3-pointers in little more than a minute staked the Bulldogs to a 34-25 edge with 2:33 left in the third.

“We let one slip through our fingers here,” said New Albany coach Tammy Geron, who dropped her first game to Jeff since taking over the program in 2011. “It’s a rivalry game, so it hurts. This is one we circle on our calandar at the beginning of the year. We stopped playing to win and started playing not to lose.”

Down 34-25 and struggling on the offensive end, the Red Devils turned to their defense. Jeff held the Bulldogs scoreless for the next five minutes, a drought that nearly extended to the halfway point of the final frame. In the meantime, the Red Devils got aggressive on the offensive end and got a boost from sophomore Taylor Sykes. The diminutive 5-foot-2 guard repeatedly drew fouls on her way to the hoop and made New Albany pay once she reached the foul line. Sykes was 9-of-10 from the stripe on the night, and scored her five free throws got her team to within four, at 34-30, heading into the fourth quarter.

“Taylor Sykes stepped up,” Warren said. “She’s someone that got challenged at halftime and she really became the catalyst to our spurt. It’s a big deal when you’re down just a couple instead of nine. We knew we had it in us, it just took a while to come out. It’s not the best way to play, but it worked tonight.”

The rivals played to a stalemate for the next three minutes, and two free throws by Aaliyah Bell put New Albany in front 36-30 with 5:30 remaining. The Bulldogs would not score again until the 12-second mark.

A putback by 6-foot-1 center Haley Vogen gave the Red Devils their first field goal in nearly eight minutes, but it was enough to bring the Jeff offense to life. On the next play, Makenzi Johnson delivered her second 3-pointer of the night and Vogen gave Jeff the lead with a layup off a well-thrown lob from Aurreeshae Hines.

Clinging to a one-point lead on the road, the Jeff defense stepped up and took center stage.

After its full-court pressure caused a 10-second violation, Sykes added to the Jeff lead with two free throws off a steal in the backcourt. From there, the Bulldogs would go on to miss the front end of consecutive one-and-ones from the foul line and New Albany would never seriously threaten the Jeff advantage over the final two minutes.

“We struggle offensively,” Geron said. “We’re not a high-scoring team, so we really rely on our defense quite a bit to create offense. When we had a bit of a lead, we know how precious every one of those points are. Instead of our defense creating offense, we gave up a couple of easy baskets. It’s a learning experience and it’s a lesson we hope we’ve learned.”

The early going was a preview of the low-scoring defensive battle the game turned out to be. Sykes had four points over the first frame to lead Jeff to an 8-4 edge. New Albany missed nine of its first 10 shots before an offensive burst by Brianne Nixon, who scored inside and drew a foul before getting a layup moments later to pull the Bulldogs within two, at 19-17, heading into intermission.

It was a balanced first half for Jeff, which saw six players find the scoreboard in the first 16 minutes, while New Albany got the majority of its soring from Nixon and Knight, who combined for 12 points.

Sykes led all scorers, finishing with 16 points, four assists and three rebounds. Vogen overcame a slow start to end up with nine points, on 4-of-6 shooting, and seven rebounds for Jeff, which hosts Scottsburg on Tuesday.

New Albany, which travels to Charlestown on Monday, was paced by Nixon’s 11 points. Knight finished with nine points and three boards, hitting 4-of-5 from the free throw line. Bell had seven rebounds for the Bulldogs.

“Unfortunately, we’re kind of getting used to it,” said Warren about his team’s third-quarter deficit. “It’s very tough to see at times, but we keep fighting. Keep grinding. It’s not the thing to do, but we’ve won a few this way and a win’s a win.”



Jeffersonville   8 11 11 17—47

New Albany     4 13 17   4—38

    Jeffersonville (12-5): Lewis 0, Gray 2, Sykes 16, Vogen 9, Hines 6, Lewis 0, Ford 2, Stevenson 2, Lacy 1, Johnson 9.

    New Albany (6-10): Nixon 11, Camm 4, Bell 2, B. Knight 9, J. Knight 0, Shine 6, Jones 6.

    3-point field goals: Jeffersonville 1 (Sykes); New Albany 4 (Shine 2, Jones, B.     Knight).

    Rebounds: Jeffersonville 27 (Vogen 7); New Albany 22 (Bell 7).

    Assists: Jeffersonville 8 (Sykes 3); New Albany 10 (Nixon 3).

    Steals: Jeffersonville 5 (Sykes 3); New Albany 3 (Camm 2).

    Blocked shots: Jeffersonville 1 (Vogen 1); New Albany 1 (Bell 1).

    Turnovers: Jeffersonville 11, New Albany 13.

    Fouled out: None.

    Technical fouls: None

    Junior varsity: Jeffersonville 34-17.

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