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December 18, 2012

BOYS' HOOPS: Bulldogs can’t hold onto lead in loss to Castle

New Albany turns ball over 21 turnovers in letting 13-point lead slip away

NEW ALBANY —  New Albany built a 13-point first-half lead versus Castle Tuesday night, but couldn’t maintain it and fell to the Knights 67-58 at The Doghouse.

The Bulldogs committed 21 turnovers and watched Castle shoot 67 percent in the second half as New Albany’s modest three-game winning streak came to an end.

“At the beginning, I was really proud of our guys,” New Albany head coach Jim Shannon said. “We came to play. Then we had difficulty with their half-court trap. Our guards were just throwing it around. [Castle] did a nice job in it. When you’re playing a good team like they [Castle] are you just can’t turn the ball over that many times or else you’re going to be in for a long night.”

New Albany (4-3) started red hot, connecting on six of its first seven field goals to bolt to a 14-4 lead with 4:47 left in the first period.

The Bulldogs shot 73 percent in the first and led 19-12 heading to the second period, despite eight opening-quarter turnovers.

The Bulldogs remained hot in the second stanza as a Dustin Cochran basket gave the host a 25-12 advantage with 6:13 left until halftime.

After a timeout, the Knights regrouped and finished the second quarter on a 14-3 run, capped by a Blake Simmons steal and three-point play to close within 28-26 at intermission.

“We talked about taking care of the ball and being on our toes,” Shannon said of his halftime chat. “We were playing east to west instead of taking it to the basket.”

Simmons, an University of Evansville recruit who led all scorers with 20 points, buried a triple at the 6:16 mark in the third that gave Castle its first lead of the game, 32-30. The Knights (5-1) would not trail the rest of the way. The visitors shot 8-of-10 in the third and grabbed control of the game, taking a 46-39 lead to the final period.

Josh Rogers, who led the Bulldogs with a career-high 19, ignited the home team’s final charge. Rogers’ second of three fourth quarter triples cut Castle’s lead to 51-49 with 5:18 left. However, the Knights again answered, this time with a 10-2 spurt capped by two Simmons’ free throws for a 60-51 advantage with 2:25 remaining.

“Once we got back into it, we made a few nice plays but then threw it away,” Shannon said. “We’ve had trouble finishing games all season. If we’re going to get in the top 20, we’re going to have to start beating those teams.”

Anthony Edwards put in 17 and was the only Bulldog to score in each quarter. Leondre McBirth added 11.

“Edwards played a really nice game,” Shannon said. “He played through some foul trouble and did a very nice job for us tonight.”

New Albany, whose three losses have all been by single-digits, was only 1-of-4 from the foul line. Castle was 11-of-16 from the stripe, including 8-of-11 in the final period. New Albany domainted the backboards, outrebounding the Knights to a 33-21 tune.

The Bulldogs are back in action Dec. 28 when they travel to Evansville to face Reitz (3-2).

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