By GREG BURTON
Special to Southern Indiana Preps
CLARKSVILLE — It was no secret why everyone came to Providence on Friday night. It was the reason why the Larkin Center was a sellout.
Romeo Langford came to play.
The 6-foot-5 New Albany senior did not disappoint. He left everyone in awe, including his own coach.
“He was just incredible,” said New Albany coach Jim Shannon. “It was mostly him tonight. It was just one of those games.”
The incredible things Langford did at times left even the Providence crowd on their feet and applauding.
Langford finished the night with 53 points. He did this by hitting 12-of-20 regular field goals. He was 5-of-11 from beyond the 3-point arc. He made 14-of-16 free throws. He pulled down 11 rebounds and he made a few plays that will be talked about for years by those who saw them.
In what seems to be a sidenote on the night, Class 4A No. 3 New Albany (18-1) won the basketball game by a score of 92-44.
“He shot the ball really well tonight,” said Shannon. “Another double-double. Another night at the office.”
Langford now has 2,749 points in his Bulldog career as he remains in fourth place on the Indiana boys’ all-time scoring list. He is 269 points behind third-place Deshaun Thomas, who played his high school ball at Fort Wayne Bishop Luers. Former Bedford North Lawrence great Damon Bailey is the all-time scoring leader with 3,134 points.
Langford came out with a vengeance, scoring 20 points in the first quarter and leading his team to a 26-12 lead after one stop. The cherry on top of the first quarter was a nearly-full-court length shot at the buzzer that brought the crowd to its feet.
“It’s not fair,” said Shannon. “It’s just not fair to be able to do all the things that he can do and take a ball and throw it nearly the length of the court and hit that.”
The Bulldogs led 46-21 at the half and Langford had 29 points. They stretched the advantage to 70-30 after three quarters, and he had 40 points.
It was simply all Romeo, all the time.
“At times, we weren’t intimidated,” said Providence coach Rob Murawski. “We ran at him and made him take tough shots, and he hit them. He proved why he’s the best in the state.
“We tried to play physical. We understood that was probably the best way to get him off balance. He took tough shots early. But in the third quarter, he got a lot of layups.”
Despite the easy victory and the stellar play of his marquee player, Shannon saw some things that concerned him.
“Our defense was not good early,” he said. “It’s just getting to the point where we’re winning by such a large margin right now, it’s getting difficult for me to get them ready. I could feel it before the start of the game.”
Providence (7-12) also played the Bulldogs about as well as it could, something that did not escape Shannon’s notice.
“I knew they would come out ready to play,” Shannon said. “I know the score isn’t indicative, but that’s the best I’ve seen them play in a while. I know that sounds like I’m crazy. But honestly, they just don’t have the talent to play with us. But for what they have, they played really well tonight.”
Langford had a couple of other bring-the-crowd-to-its-feet moments, including a couple of dunks and even his coach was impressed.
“I think it’s when he kind of tipped it in. I just remember the crowd ‘Oohing’ and ‘Ahhing.’ Just amazing,” said Shannon.
Besides Langford’s 53, the Bulldogs also had Sean East in double figures with 16 points.
Providence was led by senior Blake Murphy with 12, while Cullen Ebert came off the bench to finish with 10 points. Murphy transferred to Providence from New Albany last summer.
“At times, we played all right,” said Murawski. “At times, we did what we wanted to do. I would’ve liked to have made a few more layups and few more 3’s, though.”
New Albany (4-1 Hoosier Hills Conference) will return to action at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at HHC opponent Madison (7-12, 1-4 HHC). Providence will play Rock Creek (5-14) at the Larkin Center on Tuesday, tipping off around 7:30 p.m.
NEW ALBANY 92, PROVIDENCE 44
New Albany 26 20 24 22—92
Providence 12 9 9 14—44
New Albany (18-1): Romeo Langford 53, Sean East 16, Derrick Stevenson 2, Julien Hunter 7, Trey Hourigan 4, Darin Starks 6, Chris Johnson 2, Anthony Irvin 2.
Providence (7-12): Blake Murphy 12, Sterling Huber 5, Nick Sexton 8, Hayden Burke 4, Reece Libs 0, Cullen Ebert 10, Austin Barnett 3, Alec Fougerousse 2, Aidan Finnegan 0, Trey Beatty 0, Bishop Edwards 0, Zack Johnson 0.
3-point field goals: New Albany 6 (Langford 5, East 1); Providence 5 (Murphy 2, Ebert 2, Huber 1).
Total fouls: New Albany 13, Providence 16.
Fouled out: none
Junior varsity: New Albany 65, Providence 26.
INDIANA BOYS’ TOP 5 ALL-TIME LEADING SCORERS
Damon Bailey, Bedford North Lawrence 3,134
Marion Pierce, Lewisville 3,019
Deshaun Thomas, Ft. Wayne Bishop Luers 3,018
Romeo Langford, New Albany 2,749
Brody Boyd, Union (Dugger) 2,632