By KEVIN HARRIS
Last Saturday, the New Albany boys’ basketball team celebrated a great season opener, defeating Bloomington South 61-57 at The Doghouse.
But it was a different story in the Bulldogs’ Hoosier Hills Conference opener on Friday night at The Orange Pit in Columbus.
Host Columbus East outscored New Albany 22-15 in the second overtime as the Olympians prevailed in their season opener, 99-92.
Bulldogs’ coach Jim Shannon gave a simple reason for his team’s loss — poor defense. New Albany allowed 27 layups and gave up 90-plus points for the first time since the 1994-95 season.
East’s 99 points were the most surrendered by the Bulldogs in Shannon’s 15 years at the New Albany helm.
“It was the worst defensive performance that I’ve ever seen,” Shannon said. “We can score — it’s on the other end that we’ve got to work on.”
Trailing 66-63 with 47.1 seconds left in regulation, sophomore Jeff Byrne nailed a 3-pointer from the right corner to tie the game at 66.
The Olympians answered with a layup by Ridge Harris with seven seconds left. But on the ensuing possession, New Albany guard Jermaine Parrish drove to the basket to draw a foul on East’s Zach Martindale. Following an Olympian timeout, Parrish did not get iced and knocked down two free throws to deadlock the game at 68. The Olympians’ Kyle Taylor missed a half-court shot at the buzzer, forcing overtime.
After both teams tallied nine points each in the first overtime to keep the game tied at 77, East hit its first four shots of the second overtime to go up 86-79. Olympian guard Nate Rich scored five points in the 9-2 run to begin the second OT, which included a three-point play to start the extra period.
New Albany (1-1) got within 95-92 with 15.5 seconds left on a 3-pointer by senior Josh Rogers. But Columbus East sealed the victory at the stripe, as both Taylor and Harris hit a pair of free throws in the final 12.3 seconds. Taylor scored nine points in the second overtime, all of which came at the line.
Shannon said the Bulldogs were affected by the loss of center Anthony Edwards in the second OT. Edwards fouled out of the contest with 5:17 left in the fourth after scoring 10 points.
“I thought they executed better than we did,” Shannon said about the second overtime. “We had no inside game with Anthony on the bench most of the time.”
New Albany junior guard Leondre McBirth scored a game- and career-high 28 points. Parrish had 23 points and seven assists, while New Albany senior Garrett Arnold scored 17 points. Rogers had 11 points and Edwards scored 10.
New Albany will travel to Class 4A No. 9 Evansville Harrison tonight.
COLUMBUS EAST 99, NEW ALBANY 92, 2OT
New Albany 20 11 13 24 9 15—92
Columbus East 9 20 20 19 9 22—99
New Albany (1-1, 0-1 HHC): Byrne 3, Cochran 0, Reeves 0, Arnold 17, Parrish 23, McBirth 28, Rogers 11, Edwards 10, Henes 0.
Columbus East (1-0, 1-0): Martindale 16, Nolting 0, Rich 11, Harris 18, Umphress 9, Taylor 15, Lienhoop 21, Jensen 2, Thompson 7.
3-point field goals: New Albany 8 (Byrne, Arnold, Parrish, McBirth 2, Rogers 3); Columbus East 3 (Rich 2, Harris).
Junior varsity: New Albany 36, Columbus East 32, OT