By KEVIN HARRIS
BEDFORD – Class 4A No. 3 New Albany secured a share of its fourth consecutive Hoosier Hills Conference championship Friday night at BNL Fieldhouse, defeating Bedford North Lawrence 67-55.
The Bulldogs (19-3, 6-1 HHC) will clinch the HHC title outright for the fourth year in a row if Floyd County rival Floyd Central (17-3, 5-1) loses at Columbus East (9-12, 3-3) on Wednesday night.
“It’s nice to be able to say that you won the Hoosier Hills championship again this year,” New Albany head coach Jim Shannon said on his radio show on WXVW-1450 AM Saturday morning. “We were very excited about winning that (Friday) night.”
Junior standout Romeo Langford led New Albany with a game-high 36 points, shooting 12-of-25 from the field and 11-of-14 from the free-throw line, and 11 rebounds. The 6-foot-5 swingman also recorded five steals and four blocked shots.
Junior guard Sean East was the only other Bulldog to score in double figures with 13 points. East did not miss a shot in the game. He made all five of his field-goal attempts, both of his 3-point tries and each of his three foul shots. East also had three assists and two steals.
New Albany senior guard Isaac Hibbard recorded nine points and seven rebounds. Teammate Julien Hunter grabbed 11 boards to go along with his seven points. Hunter also had three blocked shots.
The Bulldogs were up by just five points at halftime, 29-24. But following an inspirational intermission speech from Shannon, New Albany outscored the Stars 23-6 in the third quarter to take a 52-30 lead. Bedford outscored the Bulldogs in the fourth 25-15.
Shannon mentioned on his radio show that he felt his players began the contest sluggish.
“We felt like we really didn’t have any energy in the first quarter. I had noticed it on a couple players’ faces when we warmed up. Certainly, as the game progressed, I just felt like we weren’t ready to play,” Shannon said. “I challenged them at halftime and really got on them hard about not being excited to win the conference. I just tried to get them to be in the moment and to understand that it’s a blessing to have the talent and have the opportunity to be a winning program and to play for championships.”
Sophomore McCall Ray was the Stars’ leading scorer with 16 points. Bedford freshman Brayton Bailey, the son of former BNL and Indiana University great Damon Bailey, had 10 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
New Albany will host Indianapolis Manual (14-5) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Bedford (8-15, 4-3) will entertain Corydon Central (7-14) at 7:30 p.m. next Friday.
NEW ALBANY 67, BEDFORD NORTH LAWRENCE 55
New Albany 13 16 23 15-67
Bedford NL 11 13 6 25-55
New Albany (19-3, 6-1 Hoosier Hills Conference): Romeo Langford 36, Sean East 13, Isaac Hibbard 9, Julien Hunter 7, Blake Murphy 2, Peyton Martin 0, Savion Southers 0, Derrick Stevenson 0.
Bedford NL (8-15, 4-3): McCall Ray 16, Brayton Bailey 10, Isaiah Stockman 8, Gaven Moore 7, Jathan Ritter 6, Alex McCutcheon 4, Drew Shoulfer 4.
3-point field goals: New Albany 4 (East 3, Langford 1); Bedford NL 5 (Ray 3, Ritter 2).