Sometimes records do matter. Sometimes, even in a rivalry as intense as the historic New Albany-Jeffersonville battles, the mismatch predicted by flip-flopped records is accurate.
Class 4-A No.9 New Albany simply outclassed the Red Devils on Friday night. With smooth freshman Romeo Langford scoring 21 points, with the Devils handing out turnovers like free coupons, the Bulldogs rumbled to a 78-36 victory at Johnson Arena.
According to the history books, it’s not the worst New Albany beatdown in the 155-game series. That would be a 50-0 win during the 1911-12 season. But this one felt like it. New Albany never trailed and the margin hit another level of double figures with each passing quarter.
Jeffersonville had turnovers on its first six possessions, and the Bulldogs (9-2) sensed a little fear. They pounced, they chewed, they buried the bones.
“We had to come out with intensity and jump on them quick,” New Albany coach Jim Shannon said. “We didn’t want them to get a hint that they could play with us.
“We felt, if we showed respect — not only for Jeffersonville, but for ourselves — we would really play well. We respect the series. We know the shoe could be on the other foot in any given year.. We just wanted to prove, in this game, we were the better team.”
Proving that did not take very long.
The Red Devils could not solve New Albany’s new-look, 1-3-1 halfcourt trapping defense. While Jeffersonville was befuddled, New Albany was in beast mode, blasting to a 15-2 lead. The gap hit 20 before halftime, 30 midway through the third, and 40 in the fourth.
“We were on it, we were intense,” Shannon said. “The kids had a little pep in their step. We talked about wanting to play with some tenacity, on our toes, moving forward.”
While New Albany plowed ahead undeterred, Jeffersonville took steps backward. The Devils had 21 turnovers and hit only 4 of 19 shots in the first half. Left-handed junior Dominique Hunter came off the bench to hit four 3-pointers and score 14 points, the lone highlight for the battle-weary.
Jeffersonville (2-8) cannot make a living playing so many ranked opponents. New Albany was just another entry in that parade.
“I thought we played hard for the most part,” Jeffersonville coach Matt Pait said. “That’s a really good team. The problem with our schedule is they’re all really good teams, and good teams expose your weaknesses. That’s what we’ve run into lately.”
Langford, quiet in the first half, awoke with 15 second-half points. Isaac Hibbard stroked four 3-pointers, the bulk in the first half to ignite New Albany’s offense, and finished with 14 points. DeAnthony Warren didn’t miss a field goal and scored 10.
New Albany could do what it wanted, when it wanted, how it wanted. New Albany senior guard Davon Winburn credited that to the confidence created on the defensive end.
“Defense definitely got us going,” he said. “Our defense really helped us out. It feels good to get a good win like this.”
“Isaac played great, he gave us awesome minutes,” Shannon said. “Romeo is feeling his way through it all. He’s special, but I still don’t think he’s unloaded on people the way he’s capable.”
New Albany also took another step toward its second straight Hoosier Hills Conference title. The Bulldogs (4-0 in the league) have won a record 16 HHC championships. Jeffersonville continued its worst start since the 1961-62 season.
Justin Sokeland can be followed on Twitter at @golfguru55.
New Albany (9-2) – DeAnthony Warren 10, Romeo Langford 21, Nick White 6, Davon Winburn 9, Isaac Hibbard 14, Jeff Byrne 9, Terrence Browning 4, Sean East 5.
Jeffersonville (2-8) – Cam Northern 2, Demarre Sims 7, Chad Hudson 1, Ronnie Todd 4, Gerrin Moore 3, Anthony Southers 2, Dominique Hunter 14, Jaden Coleman 3.
3-point goals – Langford 2, Winburn 1, Hibbard 4, Byrne 3, East 1, Hunter 4.