By KEVIN HARRIS
All season, the Jeffersonville Red Devils have shown they have more weapons than just Indiana All-Star candidate Darryl Baker.
On Saturday night at Scott Gym, Jeff continued to prove it is not a one-man show.
Senior guard Jacquari Chandler scored a game-high 19 points to lead the Red Devils past archrival New Albany in the Class 4A Seymour Sectional championship, 63-50.
It was Jeff’s second sectional title in a row, its third in four years and its 37th overall. The Red Devils will take on Class 4A No. 4 Evansville Harrison in the Class 4A Seymour Regional semifinal at about noon next Saturday at Scott Gym. The Warriors (22-1) beat Evansville Reitz in Saturday’s Evansville North Sectional final, 72-59.
“It feels great. It feels a lot better to me this year than the past couple of years because I didn’t play much,” said Chandler, who almost did not come out for the team this season because he wanted to focus on football. “This year it’s more special being out here with the guys I love.”
As for Jeff’s long-time rivalry with the Bulldogs (15-8), the Red Devils evened the series with New Albany at 76. It was Jeff’s second victory over the ’Dogs this season and its fourth head-to-head win in their last six matchups.
Chandler did most of his damage in the fourth quarter.
After the Bulldogs cut the deficit to 37-34 with 6:41 left in regulation, Chandler proceeded to tally 11 points in the fourth to help the Red Devils (22-3) outscore New Albany 26-18 in the final stanza.
In the fourth, Chandler made each of his four field-goal attempts — all layups — and was 3-of-5 from the stripe. He gave Jeff a six-point cushion at 49-43 with 2:15 left by hitting both ends of a one-and-one.
“I talked to Jacquari today and I told him he’s been the glue for us all year, and he continued to do that,” Jeff coach Chad Gilbert said. “He’s the guy who early on talked about not playing this season, but I’m glad he did play. He’s strong, he’s got long arms and he’s a competitor.”
Chandler increased his production, while Baker was being hassled by New Albany’s box-and-one defense with Bulldog senior Garrett Arnold chasing the 6-foot-2 senior for the majority of the game. Baker finished with seven points.
“I felt like I had to step up a lot more,” Chandler said. “Darryl is a good player and he gets a lot of baskets for us. Since they put a box-and-one on him, he couldn’t do that. I felt that all of us had to step up and help him out some.”
Despite the loss, New Albany coach Jim Shannon lauded Arnold’s defense on Baker on Saturday night.
“He did a great job. He did an absolutely fantastic job,” Shannon said. “I told him to go out there and play his game and if you can hold Baker down, someday when you are watching him play because [Baker] will probably continue to play, you can say, ‘I held that guy to seven.’”
For the third straight game in the sectional, the Red Devils got off to a fast start and made their opponent play catch-up the rest of the way.
Jeff led 13-3 at the end of the first quarter and got its lead up to 24-13 midway through the second period on a Baker bucket. New Albany trimmed its deficit down to 24-18 at halftime after a 3-pointer by Jermaine Parrish and a layup by Leondre McBirth.
“Their pressure got to us early and we kicked it around a little bit. Once we settled down, we played a pretty even game with them,” Shannon said. “
The Bulldogs made things interesting in the third quarter thanks to Chad Hudson.
The sophomore guard scored 11 of his 12 points in the stanza to enable New Albany to get within one late in the third quarter.
Hudson, who came in for Parrish with 6:09 left in the third and the Bulldogs trailing 27-18, knocked down two 3’s to get New Albany within five at 29-24 halfway through the third.
Following back-to-back layups by Jeff’s Keenan Williams and Chandler, Hudson began an 8-0 run with a bucket and then capped off the surge with a 3 to get the Bulldogs within one at 33-32 with a little more than a minute left in the period.
“He did an absolute fantastic job running the point,” Shannon said. “You are not going to face more intense pressure than we faced tonight.”
But Jeff stretched its advantage back to five after the Devils drew two straight fouls and converted four foul shots to end the quarter.
“I thought at halftime that we had a chance to come out in the second half and make it interesting,” said Shannon, whose team committed 20 turnovers. “We got it to within one and then we fouled two times in a row. I thought that really hurt. We fought so hard to get to within one and we fouled them on shots. I thought turnovers were the difference in the game.”
New Albany trailed 49-44 with 2:10 left in regulation when Hudson knocked down a free throw. But Jeff put the Bulldogs away after that with a 12-4 spurt.
In his two seasons as Jeff boys’ coach following a successful run as the Red Devils’ girls’ coach, which included a Class 4A state championship in 2011, Gilbert has gone 42-7 as the Red Devil boys’ boss. That includes two Hoosier Hills Conference championships and a pair of sectional crowns.
“It’s been a great year,” Gilbert said. “We came off a sectional championship last year where we lost six seniors and our sixth man. We lost seven kids from last year to this year, which tells us our kids stepped up and made some plays this season.”
Williams wound up with 15 points and three steals. But he made a costly mistake late in the game. After fouling out with 2:45 remaining in the fourth, Williams got ejected at the 1:30 mark after leaving the bench during a ruckus between both teams following a New Albany foul on Baker.
By IHSAA rules, Williams must sit out next Saturday’s regional semi against Evansville Harrison. Williams scored 12 points in the Red Devils’ 73-70 loss to the Warriors on Feb. 2 at Johnson Arena.
Jeff junior guard Drew Ellis came off the bench to produce nine points and three assists. Ellis’ playing time was limited as he was dealing with a stomach bug on Saturday. Red Devil guard Myles Harvey chipped in nine points and three steals. Baker grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
Gilbert expects a very challenging regional, which also will include Class 4A No. 3 Columbus North (23-1). The Bull Dogs, who will face Franklin Central (11-10) in the regional opener next Saturday, defeated Jeff in the championship game of the Bob Wettig Tournament on Dec. 29 in Richmond, 61-55.
“It’s going to be tough,” Gilbert said. “We’re going in short-handed now, so we’ll see what happens. Harrison is good. Harrison beat us at our place when we were fully loaded and now we have one less player. We’ll just have to adapt and other guys will have to step up. We’re coming back here to win it.”
Parrish and McBirth each led New Albany with 15 points. McBirth completed a double-double with 10 rebounds. The Bulldogs say goodbye to six seniors in Arnold, Parrish, Josh Rogers, Louis Donastorg, Anthony Edwards and Conner Henes. Edwards was suspended for the rest of the sectional prior to Friday’s semifinal victory over Jennings County for violating team rules.
CLASS 4A SEYMOUR SECTIONAL
JEFFERSONVILLE 63, NEW ALBANY 50
Jeffersonville 13 11 13 26—63
New Albany 3 15 14 18—50
Jeffersonville (22-3): Jacquari Chandler 7-12 0-0 3-5 19, Keenan Williams 6-10 3-3 15, Drew Ellis 3-9 2-2 9, Myles Harvey 1-6 7-8 9, Darryl Baker 2-5 3-4 7, Kortrell White 1-3 2-4 4, Leonard Kwitonda 0-0 0-0 0, Devin Shackleford 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-45 20-26 63.
New Albany (15-8): Leondre McBirth 4-9 5-6 15, Jermaine Parrish 4-10 6-7 15, Chad Hudson 4-7 1-2 12, Josh Rogers 1-3 2-2 5, Jeff Byrne 1-5 0-0 3, Garrett Arnold 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 14-37 14-17 50.
3-point field goals: Jeffersonville 1-16 (Ellis 1-6, Baker 0-3, Williams 0-3, Harvey 0-4); New Albany 8-20 (Hudson 3-5, McBirth 2-4, Parrish 1-2, Rogers 1-3, Byrne 1-5, Arnold 0-1).
Rebounds: Jeffersonville 27 (Baker 9); New Albany 24 (McBirth 10).
Assists: Jeffersonville 9 (Ellis 3); New Albany 7 (Arnold 3).
Steals: Jeffersonville 13 (Baker, Harvey, Williams 3); New Albany 2 (Byrne, Rogers 1).
Turnovers: Jeffersonville 11, New Albany 20.
Total fouls: Jeffersonville 17, New Albany 18.
Fouled out: Williams (J); Hudson (NA).
Technical fouls: Williams (J).