By RYAN INGRAM
NEW ALBANY —
Garrett Arnold had 18 points to lead five New Albany players scoring in double-figures in an 80-68 win over visiting Evansville Central on Saturday afternoon at the Doghouse.
Jermaine Parrish added 17 points, Josh Rogers had 15 points on five 3-pointers, and Jeff Byrne and Leondre McBirth each added 10 for the Bulldogs, who improved to 10-6 with six wins in their last seven games.
The win also stopped the Bears’ five-game winning streak, dropping them to 11-6.
“I thought that offensively we played really well tonight,” Bulldogs coach Jim Shannon said. “We took advantage of some of their defensive mistakes.”
Byrne got the scoring started for New Albany with a 3-pointer from the right wing. Central’s Trevor Ferguson got the Bears on the board with a basket in the paint, but Arnold answered with basket at the other end on the next play to put the Bulldogs up 5-2 early on.
With New Albany up 12-10, Arnold drove the right side of the lane and drew a foul. He sank both at the stripe. On the ensuing inbounds, Anthony Edwards stepped in front of the Bears’ Jalen Bender to claim the pass. Edwards dished to Josh Rogers, who hit his second 3 from the left side of the key, to put New Albany up 17-10.
Central guard Andrew Coffman quickly added a 3 of his own, but Rogers, with the early hot-hand, added his third triple of the quarter to keep the lead at seven, 20-13 Bulldogs.
With just under six seconds left in the opening quarter, and New Albany up 22-17, the Bears found themselves with the ball under their own basket. Kourtlandt Martin took the inbounds pass in the left corner, swung it around the wing to Bender, who quickly found Ferguson cutting toward the hoop for a layup as the buzzer sounded.
After one quarter, New Albany was up by three, 22-19.
“Defensively, we felt like we gave up way too many layups,” Shannon said. “The way they shoot the ball, they make you come out and guard the 3. When you do that, It opens up penetration for guys capable of penetrating. They’ve got a couple guys who are really good at that.”
Riding the momentum of that buzzer-beater, Central put the pressure on New Albany in the second quarter. The Bulldogs always had an answer.
After Central’s Coffman hit a 3 to pull the Bears within one at 25-24, Parrish drove the lane for a layup to stretch the lead to three at 27-24. Darius Sherman countered with his own layup for the Bears, but again Parrish drove the lane, drawing a foul. His two free throws pushed the lead back to three at 29-26.
With New Albany ahead by five, and under three minutes left in the half, Central made a run. Beau Dedmond sank a turnaround jumper in the lane. McBirth missed a three for the Bulldogs at the other end of the court.
The Bears pushed the ball up to a wide open Ferguson, who nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game at 35 with 1:23 remaining in the half.
New Albany didn’t bow out. Parrish found himself open for a 3 on the following possession, and found the bottom of the net. The Bulldogs took the lead for good, 38-35. Parrish was fouled on their next possession and made 1-of-2 from the charity stripe, giving the Bulldogs a 4-point lead going into the half.
Central hit a layup right out of the gate in the third quarter to cut the lead down to two. Rogers hit another 3 for the Bulldogs to answer and the score was 42-37. Moments later, Rogers would sink his fifth 3 to put New Albany ahead by eight, 47-39.
“In the second half we came out and got some big buckets,” Arnold. “We just finished it.”
The Bulldogs pushed the lead out to as many as 14 early in the fourth quarter. Central would cut the advantage down to six with under two minutes to play, but it was too little, too late.
New Albany made 6-of-9 free throws in the final minutes to clinch the win.
The Bulldogs travel to Indianapolis on Saturday to take on Arlington.