For a so called “meaningless” game, it sure seemed as if there were a lot on the line as No. 7 4A New Albany visited Louisville Male last night in “The Battle of The Bulldogs.”

With time expired in the matchup, New Albany guard TeNale Roland had a chance to give his squad the win by converting two free-throws. But Roland missed both, resulting in a 55-54 Male victory.

“That’s a very tough situation to put a sophomore in,” New Albany coach Jim Shannon said. “It’s not his fault. There were lots of other times we could have won this ballgame and it doesn’t rest on him.”

New Albany (16-3) looked as if it were going to run away with the game early on in the matchup as the Hoosier Bulldogs built a 17-8 lead after the first quarter.

But a matchup zone resulted in several takeaways by Male, who followed with a 15-2 run over six minutes that gave the Bluegrass Bulldogs a 29-24 halftime lead.

“I think that after we started playing that zone early on it frustrated them a little bit,” Male (24-6) coach Tom Crews said. “And having number 40 (Mitchell Meyer) in foul trouble helped us out a little bit. But we played Seventh Region basketball tonight, and tried to be as aggressive as possible on offense.”

Meyer, New Albany’s top inside presence, was hit with his 3rd foul with five minutes left in the first quarter. He picked up his fourth with 5:18 in the third quarter, and fouled out with 4:36 left in the game, only scoring six points and playing sparingly throughout.

“It seemed like everytime he breathed on someone a foul was called,” Shannon said. “He’s been our go-to-guy all season, and I guess everyone knew that.”

Doug Beaumont, Kentucky’s Mr. Football, led all scorers with 14 points and came up with two key plays late to give Male the win.

Following a Matt Lynch lay-in, New Albany led 50-47 with 3:10 left in the game. Following a deflected pass at midcourt, Beaumont — a Louisville football signee — came up with the loose ball and sprinted toward the Male basket. Rather than go for the lay-in, Beaumont found Wes Miller for an open three-pointer on the left wing to tie the game, 50-50, with 2:31 left.

A jumper from William Barber was followed by two free throws by Male’s Kris Carree, and the game was tied 52-52 with just over a minute left. Then, with :40.9 left, New Albany guard Braydon Hobbs made an acrobatic baseline jumper as he was falling out of bounds to make it 54-52 New Albany.

On Male’s next possession, Beaumont fought through a screen to nail a 23-footer with :9.9 left. According to Crews, it was a play Beaumont designed himself.

“He did what a senior should do,” Crews said. “He came in and suggested it —- and that was good enough for us.”

That set up New Albany’s final possession, Roland found some space, drove through the lane and missed the lay-in as time expired, but was fouled by Male’s Ben Holman.

“It’s hard to make those free throws,” Crews said. “If he would have made the first one we would have called a timeout, but since he missed it, we took our chances.”

Shannon wasn’t happy with the loss, but said the game was a good test going towards the postseason.

“You don’t want to lose, and our kids aren’t used to losing,” Shannon said. “But we’ll come back from this and be ready on Friday.”

New Albany closes out its regular season Friday at home against Bloomington North.

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