BULLDOGS PLAYED LOTS OF ZONE VERSUS NORTH
For most of the Class 4A Seymour Sectional and Saturday’s Class 4A Seymour Regional semifinal against Evansville Central, New Albany primarily played man-to-man defense.
But in Saturday night’s 46-45 overtime loss to Bloomington North in the Seymour Regional final, the Bulldogs used a 2-3 zone defense for most of the contest.
The main reason New Albany coach Jim Shannon went to the zone was early foul trouble.
During the first quarter, the Cougars penetrated several times into New Albany’s man-to-man. As a result, the Bulldogs committed six fouls in the opening quarter and North made 7-of-8 free throws. New Albany (18-7) led 15-14 at the end of the stanza.
Late in the quarter, Shannon went to the zone and it forced the Cougars (16-8) to take perimeter shots instead of using the dribble drive.
The zone prevented North from hitting 3-pointers for the majority of the game. The Cougars went 2-of-12 from behind the arc for the first three quarters.
“We discovered we were pretty good at this and they’re not making them,” Shannon said. “I think changing to the 2-3 zone was the best thing we did all night. They were just having their way with us. They were driving on us and driving on us. We were fouling and they got to the free-throw line, so we went from a man-to-man to a 2-3 zone to keep them off the free-throw line. Plus we were getting in foul trouble.”
But North found a way to nail 3s in the fourth quarter and overtime, connecting on 4-of-10 3-pointers in the final 12 minutes. That included a buzzer-beating 3 by the Cougars’ Tyler Truesdel to tie the game at 38 at the end of regulation and the eventual game-winning 3 by Malik Laffoon with four seconds left in OT.
“A couple of times, we just quit playing,” Shannon said.
The Bulldogs continued to use the zone as their fouls increased. New Albany senior guard Leondre McBirth committed his fourth foul at the 7:46 mark of the fourth quarter. He sat on the bench until the 3:55 mark of the period, and he played with four fouls the rest of the game.
Plus toward the end of the game, New Albany’s Javen Reeves, DeAnthony Warren and Nick White each had three fouls.
— Staff writer Kevin Harris
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
LEONDRE MCBIRTH, NEW ALBANY
McBirth averaged 20.5 points in Saturday’s Class 4A Seymour Regional at Scott Gym.
The 6-foot-1 senior guard scored 19 points in the Bulldogs’ 47-45 semifinal victory over Evansville Central. He followed that up with a game-high 22 points in New Albany’s 46-45 overtime loss to Bloomington North in the championship game.
McBirth also had a game-high eight rebounds and four assists versus the Cougars.