By KEVIN HARRIS
NEW ALBANY – Class 4A No. 2 New Albany sent its seniors out on a high note Friday night at The Doghouse.
The Bulldogs shot 62.2 percent from the field (28-of-45) to defeat Bloomington North in their regular-season finale 79-71. New Albany (21-3) also made 44.4 percent of its 3-point attempts (8-of-18) and 83.3 percent of its free throws (15-of-18).
All-State junior Romeo Langford paced the Bulldogs with a game-high 28 points, shooting 9-of-18 from the floor and 9-of-11 from the line. He grabbed nine rebounds and distributed three assists.
In his final home game at The Doghouse, senior guard Isaac Hibbard compiled 17 points as he was 5-of-8 from the floor, 3-of-5 from 3-point range and 4-of-5 from the stripe. He also snagged six boards and made three assists.
Hibbard passed former New Albany great Lamont Roland for 10th place on the Bulldogs’ all-time scoring list. Hibbard now has 1,089 career points.
“It’s a great honor because there’s been a lot of great players that have come through New Albany and played in this gym,” Hibbard said. “Just knowing that all the hard work has paid off and that you can be on the top 10 scoring list is a big accomplishment for me.”
New Albany head coach Jim Shannon has enjoyed coaching Hibbard.
“It’s been an absolute joy and a blessing to be able to coach him because he is very coachable, very knowledgeable and very much a team player,” Shannon said.
The only other New Albany player reaching double figures was Sean East with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting. The junior guard dished out a team-high eight assists.
The Bulldogs took control of the game during a seven-plus-minute stretch in the first half. With the score tied at 19 at the 1:24 mark of the opening quarter, New Albany reeled off 20 consecutive points to go up 39-19 with 2:09 left in the second period.
Bloomington North (12-9) made a final charge late in the fourth. Trailing 72-52 with 2:11 remaining in regulation, the Cougars put together a 19-5 run to pull within 77-71 with five seconds left. But New Albany senior Peyton Martin sealed the victory with a pair of free throws with 1.9 ticks remaining. North outscored the Bulldogs in the final stanza 34-19.
Junior forward Musa Jallow led the Cougars with 24 points. Teammates Tim Brewster and Liam Wilkerson scored 17 and 11, respectively. Indiana University head coach Tom Crean was in attendance. The Hoosiers are recruiting both Langford and Jallow.
The Bulldogs will begin their quest to repeat as Class 4A state champions at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when they face Jennings County (13-10) in the first round of the Class 4A Seymour Sectional. New Albany has captured the last three sectional championships.
“We always tell our guys that it’s 0-0 from here on out,” Shannon said. “Nobody cares that you won the conference. Nobody cares how many games you’ve won. Nobody cares what your ranking is. We’re going to come lay it on the line and go hard Tuesday night. We’re not overlooking anybody by any stretch.”
NEW ALBANY 79, BLOOMINGTON NORTH 71
Bl. North 19 7 11 34-71
New Albany 21 18 21 19-79
Bloomington North (12-9): Musa Jallow 24, Tim Brewster 17, Liam Wilkerson 11, Jack Townsend 9, David Morgan 5, Logan Calvin 3, Sean Rudder 2, Ethan Vencel 0.
New Albany (21-3): Romeo Langford 28, Isaac Hibbard 17, Sean East 12, Derrick Stevenson 7, Peyton Martin 5, Julien Hunter 4, Trey Hourigan 2, Seth Short 2, Savion Southers 2, Blake Murphy 0.
3-point field goals: Bloomington North 12 (Brewster 5, Townsend 3, Jallow 2, Morgan 1, Wilkerson 1); New Albany 8 (Hibbard 3, East 2, Langford 1, Martin 1, Stevenson 1).