New Albany advanced with an early big bang, and Jeffersonville was ousted despite a late explosion in the Class 4-A boys’ basketball sectional openers Tuesday night.
The Bulldogs blasted Floyd Central with a 25-2 start en route to a 57-43 victory in the first game. Jeffersonville, the defending champion, erupted for 30 fourth-quarter points to erase a double-digit deficit, but Jennings County prevailed 85-75 in overtime.
New Albany (15-6) will face Bedford North Lawrence (12-10) in Friday’s first semifinal, then the Panthers (14-9) will face Seymour (3-16) in the nightcap. Those victors will meet in the final.
The Highlanders (5-18) were not prepared for what hit them. New Albany sensed their lack of tournament experience and capitalized with a furious run that covered the first 9:15.* New Albany 57, Floyd Central 43:
Jeff Byrne, lurking open in the corners, was the spark with three 3-pointers. New Albany hit five threes during the spurt and capped it with two Leondre McBirth free throws with 6:45 left in the second quarter. The damage was done.
“That’s it,” Floyd Central coach Mark Lieberman said. “We got ourselves in too big of a hole. We’re not the Miami Heat. We couldn’t overcome it.”
New Albany flattened out after spiking the meter. The Highlanders did slice and slash away at the margin, trimming it to 34-21 early in the third quarter and 50-38 in the fourth. But the Bulldogs had too much of a head start.
“We felt like we needed to jump on them early,” New Albany coach Jim Shannon said. “They don’t have any tournament experience, so I knew they would be tight. It’s hard to make shots at tournament time. It’s a lot easier to make them during the regular season. We played a little tentative after we got the big lead, but it was a great effort.”
McBirth finished with 15 points and Byrne 13.
“Jeff hit some big shots in the first half that helped us build the lead,” Shannon said. “But I thought our guards did a good job of penetrating and finding Jeff.”
New Albany hit seven 3-pointers and 17 of 29 shots overall (59 percent).
Myles Ervin had 17 points for the Highlanders.
“They shot it well,” Lieberman said. “It’s not a hard game. It’s pretty simplistic, but it’s the truth.”
The Panthers owned a 41-27 lead with 3:33 left in the third quarter and a 61-51 edge late in the fourth quarter before the Red Devils (12-11) came scrambling back.* Jennings County 85, Jeffersonville 75:
Tyrise Major sparked the comeback with a steal and layup plus two 3-pointers, the latter tying it at 67 with 17.9 seconds left. But the Panthers scored the first seven points in overtime to regain control.
“In a close game that goes into overtime, there’s a lot of things you can look back on,” Jeff coach Matt Pait said. “They can be proud of their effort. They fought their butts off. It looked like we were done. We just kept fighting.”
Keenan Williams scored a career-high 32 points while Major added a career-high 15 before exiting with cramps. Chad Hudson had 12 points and Drew Ellis scored 10 before fouling out with 7:12 left in regulation.
Jennings County hit timely 3-pointers (nine total), but it was the towers inside that did the most work. Brad Hunt, a 6-foot-9 senior, had 20 points and nine rebounds, and 6-6 freshman Tyler Vogel had 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Dan Leach (12 points) started the overtime with a corner three, and the Panthers hit 11 free throws after that to finish a season sweep of the Devils.
“They were just better than us tonight,” Pait said.
– Byrne 13, Reeves 5, Warren 5, McBirth 15, Cochran 6, Winburn 7, Hibbard 6.New Albany (15-6)
– Sturgeon 2, Kimm 7, Kinnaird 8, Ervin 17, Lewis 5, Smith 2, Crum 2.Floyd Central (5-18)
– Byrne 3, Warren , McBirth 2, Hibbard , Kimm , Ervin 2, Kinnaird 2.3-point goals
– Leach 12, Vogel 19, Hunt 20, Kirchner 11, Scruggs 6, McNamee 6, Hunter Euler 8, Jarvis 3.Jennings County(14-9)
– Ellis 10, Williams 32, Sims 4, Hudson 12, Allen 2, Major 15.Jeffersonville(12-11)
– Leach 2, Kirchner 3, Scruggs , Euler 2, Jarvis , Ellis 2, Hudson 3, Major 2.3-point goals