Romeo Langford and Josh Jefferson combine for 55 points for the Bulldogs
INDIANAPOLIS – The three Justins of Pike overcame the Romeo and Josh Show of New Albany as the Red Devils beat the previously unbeaten and top-ranked Bulldogs 73-68 Saturday in the Tipoff Classic at Southport Fieldhouse.
Justin Roberts, Justin Thomas and Justin Williams combined for 55 points, the same amount that Romeo Langford and Josh Jefferson combined for in a losing effort for New Albany.
Pike improved to 5-1. New Albany, coming off a hard-fought win over Floyd Central Friday night, fell to 3-1.
“I take my hat off to them,” said New Albany coach Jim Shannon, whose team led 15-4 in the first period, 39-39 in the second, and 47-39 in the third but trailed for the first time with 1:52 left in the game. “I thought they played a great game. I could feel them coming on. They’re good. They’re very impressive. They’re very physical, very quick, and we had a difficult time staying in front of them.”
Everything was clicking early for New Albany, which jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the first of six Jefferson 3-pointers. When Pike answered with four points, the Bulldogs responded with an 8-0 run to take the 15-4 lead. But the Red Devils did not go away. They cut the lead to 20-16 at the end of the first period on a Roberts 3-pointer in the final seconds.
With the score 22-18 New Albany, Langford and Jefferson took over. Langford hit four free throws and then Jefferson scored the last 13 points of the second quarter for the Bulldogs as they took a 39-31 lead into the locker room.
Pike cut the lead to 40-39 in the third when Jefferson hit another 3, and Langford’s putback dunk, the highlight play of the game, gave New Albany the 47-39 advantage.
The Red Devils scored the next six points to make it 49-47, and Langford then went on a tear. He scored 12 of the Bulldogs’ next 13 points, the last two of which tied the game at 62 with 1:35 left.
“I thought Romeo was the cream of the crop, just like he is every night,” Shannon said. “But Josh gave him some help tonight. Josh ignited there in the first half. We just didn’t get him in the flow in the second half and I’m not sure why. You have to credit their defense for taking us out of what we wanted to do. They make you attack the basket, and we did that for the most part, but we missed some easy shots.”
Pike scored the next five points to go up 67-62 with one minute remaining, but Rondale Moore’s three-point play kept the Bulldogs alive with 55 seconds to go. A goaltending call against Langford, the second of the game, made it 69-65, and after two Pike free throws New Albany’s last gasp effort came on Jefferson’s six three to cut it to 71-68 with 23 seconds left. Pike calmly sank two free throws for the final margin.
New Albany (3-1): Romeo Langford 30, Josh Jefferson 25, Rondale Moore 6, Isaac Hibbard 5, Michael Maxwell 2.
Pike (5-1): Justin Roberts 24, Justin Thomas 18, Justin Williams 13, Durante Lee 8, Isiah Jones 8, Darian Porch 2.
3-point goals: NA 7 (Jefferson 6, Langford); Pike 6 (Williams 3, Roberts 2, Thomas 1)