Three area teams played in the first round of the Class 4A Seymour Sectional on Tuesday night at Scott Gym.
Only one survived to advance to Friday’s semifinals as New Albany defeated Floyd County rival Floyd Central in the sectional opener, 57-43. In the nightcap, Jeffersonville fought back from second-half double-digit deficit, but lost in overtime to Jennings County, 85-75. The Red Devils (12-11) lost in the opening round for the first time since 2011.
The Bulldogs (15-6) will face Bedford North Lawrence (12-10) in Friday’s first semi at 6 p.m. The Panthers (14-9) will then play host Seymour (3-16) in the second semi at about 7:30 p.m. If New Albany wins, the championship game will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. If the Stars prevail, it will be played Monday evening due to BNL girls’ appearance in the state championship game.
NEW ALBANY 57, FLOYD CENTRAL 43
The Bulldogs wasted no time in taking control of their first-round contest.
They scored the game’s first 10 points and built a 25-2 lead at the 6:45 mark on the second quarter. New Albany took its largest lead of the contest at 34-10 in the final minute of the first half on a bucket by senior Leondre McBirth.
“We felt like we needed to jump on them early. We just said to our kids, ‘Hey, they don’t have any tournament experience,’” New Albany coach Jim Shannon. “I knew they would be tight and they came out shooting and they weren’t making them.”
Floyd Central coach Mark Lieberman agreed with Shannon’s statement.
“It was a lot of our guys’ first experience in the postseason,” Lieberman said. “[New Albany] shot it well.”
The Highlanders (5-18) showed some life in the second half. They started the third period on an 8-0 run to cut their deficit to 34-21. Floyd Central sliced New Albany’s lead down to 12 points four times in the second half, but would not get any closer.
McBirth paced the Bulldogs with 15 points and three assists. New Albany junior forward Jeff Byrne scored 13 points, as he hit three 3-pointers in the opening quarter.
“Jeff played great. He hit some big ones in the first half that really built lead. But I thought our guards did a great job of penetrating and finding Jeff, especially Dre,” Shannon said. “Dre was the key. He was the best player on the floor — hands down.”
Floyd Central junior Myles Ervin tallied a game-high 17 points and three assists. Teammate J.C. Kinnaird chipped in eight points. The Highlanders say goodbye to one senior in forward Zane Nichols.