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November 25, 2012

H.S. BOYS' BASKETBALL: Rogers leads New Albany to 61-57 win over South

Pitching ace showcases hoops skills with 13 points in opener

NEW ALBANY — At New Albany High School, Josh Rogers is known as the ace pitcher for the Bulldogs’ baseball team.

But on Saturday night, the 6-foot-3 senior showed he can play hoops, too.

In his varsity debut, Rogers scored 13 points to lead the New Albany boys’ basketball team past Bloomington South at The Doghouse, 61-57.

It was the season opener for both teams and the first time the Bulldogs have defeated the Panthers in an opener since the 1973-74 campaign.

Rogers, who tried out for basketball his freshman year, decided to come out for the team because he missed playing hoops and wanted to show his hardwood skills. During his sophomore and junior years, Rogers concentrated on baseball, as he was being recruited by several NCAA Division I programs and getting looks from major-league scouts.

“This year, everything settled down and I really felt I had the opportunity to come out and play,” said Rogers, who recently signed a national letter of intent to play baseball at Louisville. “I loved basketball since I was a little kid. It’s an honor to be out there — it’s pretty cool.”

Rogers supplied the Bulldogs something they lacked last season — outside shooting.

He was 4-of-9 from 3-point range, including 3-of-4 in the third quarter that helped New Albany extend a 26-24 halftime lead to 47-35 late in the stanza.

Rogers lauded his teammates for assisting him in knocking down those trifectas.

“I give credit to my teammates for finding me when I was open,” said Rogers, who also made three steals.

New Albany coach Jim Shannon is happy to have Rogers in his program.

“He’s just a good leader. He can get the kids fired up,” Shannon said. “He missed several, but he kept shooting. He’s not real quick, but he’s smart.”

Rogers was not the only Bulldog to be productive on the offensive end.

New Albany point guard Jermaine Parrish scored a game-high 14 points, shooting 4-of-11 from the floor and 6-of-8 from the free-throw line. The senior, who grabbed a game-high eight rebounds, also did a good job distributing the ball to his teammates with four assists.

Bulldog junior Leondre McBirth tallied 13 points with 12 coming in the second half. McBirth hit two 3-pointers in the third period and converted four free throws in the final 1:02 of regulation to help seal the victory.

“We have several offensive weapons. With Jermaine out there, McBirth and now with Rogers who can [shoot] the 3 — and if we can get that thing going — it can give us a good inside-out game,” Shannon said.

New Albany won its season opener for the first time in four years, which pleased Shannon.

“It just makes everybody happier,” he said. “You get back to practice on Monday, and instead of thinking what we’re doing is not working, we think what we’re doing is working.”

Shannon complimented his team’s defense for its effort. Even though the Panthers committed only 12 turnovers, New Albany forced lots of deflections in its full-court press. Bloomington South shot 22-of-48 from the field (46 percent).

“I thought our defense was good,” he said. “Even though we gave up some inside stuff, I loved our pressure. I thought our pressure was excellent.”

The Bulldogs will travel to Columbus East on Friday for their Hoosier Hills Conference opener.

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