By KEVIN HARRIS
The New Albany Bulldogs picked the worst time to play their worst game of the season on Friday night at Tom McKinney Court.
Host Bloomington North registered the most points by a New Albany opponent on its Senior Night with a 71-44 victory. The 27-point losing margin for the Bulldogs is the largest since they lost 50-20 at Providence on Feb. 3, 2012.
The setback dampened New Albany’s momentum heading into Tuesday’s first-round game of the Class 4A Seymour Sectional against Floyd County rival Floyd Central (5-17).
The Bulldogs (14-6) entered Friday’s game on a two-game winning streak and had prevailed in five of their last seven contests.
North (12-8) dominated New Albany in nearly every aspect of the contest.
“All you can do is throw the tape in the garbage and move on,” New Albany coach Jim Shannon said. “I mean they were great tonight. They looked as good as anybody we played all year. We ran into a buzz saw. We didn’t play well, but they had a lot to do with it, too. They really did. We tried to tell our kids that they are [12-8], but they are better than their record. They are very good.”
The Bulldogs’ defense had no answer for the Cougars’ offense. North shot 23-of-42 from the field (54.8 percent) and turned the ball over just seven times.
The Cougars had four players score at least eight points. Senior guard Saikou Jallow led North with a game-high 20 points, followed by fellow senior Tyler Truesdel with 15. Senior Grant Sims, North’s leading scorer, had nine points. Junior forward Kaleb Ferrell added eight.
One area where North had a huge advantage over New Albany was at the free throw line.
The Cougars were 20-of-22 from the stripe (90.9 percent), while the Bulldogs made four of their seven attempts. Jallow, who entered the game shooting 71.8 percent from the line, was a perfect 10-of-10 from the line.
North’s defense held the Bulldogs to 16-of-44 shooting from the floor (36.4 percent) even though they were 8-of-21 from 3-point range (38.1 percent). North forced 14 New Albany turnovers and held the Bulldogs’ leading scorer, Leondre McBirth, scoreless. McBirth battled foul trouble throughout the game as he only played 12 minutes.
“That’s too many,” Shannon quipped about McBirth’s number of minutes. “He didn’t play very well and he got in foul trouble.”
McBirth committed his third foul with 5:01 left in the second quarter and sat out the rest of the first half. The senior’s fourth foul came with 6:16 remaining in the third quarter and he did not return to the game.
Cougars’ coach Andy Hodson thought getting McBirth in foul trouble was critical in Friday’s victory. He also lauded his team’s defensive effort.
“I think it helped us getting McBirth in foul trouble. I thought our guys defended their drives and penetration well,” Hodson said. “We protected the ball fairly well and made our free throws.”
North also dominated New Albany on the boards, outrebounding the Bulldogs 33-17. Jallow grabbed a game-high seven rebounds, while Sims had six boards.
“They don’t have an inside player, but they really don’t need one because Jallow rebounds so well and Ferrell when he comes in,” Shannon said. “We couldn’t do anything with them. We couldn’t score, and we couldn’t stop them from scoring. We couldn’t rebound with them.”
Junior guard Davon Winburn paced the Bulldogs with 16 points, making four 3-pointers. Sophomore guard Josh Jefferson, who primarily plays on the New Albany junior varsity, had 10 points. Teammate DeAnthony Warren scored seven points.
BLOOMINGTON NORTH 71, NEW ALBANY 44
New Albany 10 14 8 12—44
Bloom. North 19 25 18 9—71
New Albany (14-6): Davon Winburn 6-16 0-0 16, Josh Jefferson 3-7 3-6 10, DeAnthony Warren 3-4 0-0 7, Jeff Byrne 1-2 0-0 3, Dustin Cochran 1-1 0-0 3, Isaac Hibbard 1-9 1-1 3, Nick White 1-1 0-0 2, Jackson Byrne 0-0 0-0 0, Isaiah Hickman 0-0 0-0 0, Leondre McBirth 0-4 0-0 0, Adrian Pratt-Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Seth Short 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-44 4-7 44.
Bloomington North (12-8): Saikou Jallow 4-5 10-10 20, Tyler Truesdel 6-14 0-0 15, Grant Sims 3-7 3-3 9, Kaleb Ferrell 4-4 0-1 8, Malik Laffoon 3-3 0-0 6, Adam Sowder 1-4 3-4 5, Jacob Treadway 1-4 2-2 4, Connor Basye 1-1 0-0 2, Ken Montgomery 0-0 2-2 2, Riley Crean 0-0 0-0 0. Totals.
3-point field goals: New Albany 8-21 (Winburn 4-9, Cochran 1-1, Warren 1-1, Je. Byrne 1-2, Jefferson 1-2, Hibbard 0-3, McBirth 0-3); Bloomington North 5-16 (Truesdel 3-8, Jallow 2-2, Treadway 0-1, Sims 0-2, Sowder 0-3).
Rebounds: New Albany 17 (Warren 4); Bloomington North 33 (Jallow 7).
Assists: New Albany 5 (McBirth, Winburn 2); Bloomington North 12 (Sims 3).
Steals: New Albany 1 (Hibbard 1); Bloomington North 6 (Jallow 3).
Blocked shots: New Albany 2 (Je. Byrne, White 1); Bloomington North 1 (Sims 1).
Turnovers: New Albany 14, Bloomington North 7.
Total fouls: New Albany 19, Bloomington North 11.
Fouled out: None.
Technical fouls: None.