By KEVIN HARRIS
SEYMOUR – Class 4A No. 1 New Albany is back in a familiar spot in the month of March.
The defending Class 4A state champion Bulldogs earned their 17th trip to the Class 4A Seymour Sectional championship game Friday night with an 89-52 semifinal win over Bedford North Lawrence in front of a near-capacity crowd at Scott Gym.
New Albany (23-3) will face archrival Floyd Central (19-4) in the sectional final at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Scott Gym. The Highlanders downed Seymour in Friday’s first semi 44-26.
It will be the first time the Floyd County rivals have met in a sectional title game since 2004. That year the Bulldogs upended the Highlanders in the 4A Seymour Sectional final 73-65.
New Albany will be vying for its fourth consecutive sectional championship, its 11th in Class 4A and 52nd overall.
Bulldog junior swingman Romeo Langford had another productive night. The 6-foot-5 standout scored a game-high 33 points, shooting 14-of-22 from the field. Langford, who became New Albany’s all-time leading scorer earlier this season, only needs two points Saturday to eclipse the 2,000-point mark in his high school career. Langford also grabbed a game-high seven rebounds and passed out five assists versus the Stars (9-16).
Three of Langford’s teammates scored in double figures. Junior guard Sean East ended up with 12 points, while junior forward Blake Murphy added 11. New Albany senior Isaac Hibbard tallied 10. East distributed five assists.
The Bulldogs gained control of Friday’s contest right from the outset. They connected 11 of their 14 field-goal attempts in the first quarter to take a 28-9 lead, hitting six of their first seven shots. Langford scored 14 points in the opening stanza.
For the game, New Albany shot 36-of-57 (63.2 percent) from the floor and 10-of-21 from 3-point range (47.6 percent) along with committing no turnovers. The Bulldogs held Bedford to 19-of-46 shooting (41.3 percent).
Sophomore McCall Ray was the Stars’ top scorer with 14 points. Bedford freshman Brayton Bailey, the son of former BNL great Damon Bailey, wound up with 13. Teammate Isaiah Stockman had 10 points and a game-high seven boards.
Check Southern Indiana Preps on Saturday for a complete breakdown of Friday’s second semifinal of the Class 4A Seymour Sectional between New Albany and Bedford North Lawrence.
CLASS 4A SEYMOUR SECTIONAL
NEW ALBANY 89, BEDFORD NORTH LAWRENCE 52
Bedford NL 9 12 15 16-52
New Albany 28 18 18 25-89
Bedford (9-16): McCall Ray 14, Brayton Bailey 13, Isaiah Stockman 10, Jathan Ritter 5, Gaven Moore 4, Ryan Bailey 3, Koby Byers 2, Alex McCutchen 1, Cale Bunch 0, Lane Hawkins 0, Shawn Ritter 0, Drew Shoufler 0.
New Albany (23-3): Romeo Langford 33, Sean East 12, Blake Murphy 11, Isaac Hibbard 10, Derrick Stevenson 7, Julien Hunter 6, Trey Hourigan 4, Seth Short 4, Savion Southers 2, Kameron Guess 0, Peyton Martin 0, Marcus McGee 0.
3-point field goals: Bedford 3 (Ray 2, J. Ritter 1); New Albany 10 (Murphy 3, East 2, Langford 2, Hibbard 1, Short 1, Stevenson 1).
Rebounds: Bedford 18 (Stockman 7); New Albany 29 (Langford 7).
Turnovers: Bedford 9, New Albany 0.
Total fouls: Bedford 5, New Albany 10.
Fouled out: none.
Technical fouls: Langford.