By JON REITER
NEW ALBANY —
Host New Albany jumped out to a 17-2 lead against visiting Silver Creek on Friday in the Doghouse, and that cushion provided the Bulldogs all the breathing room they needed as the hosts cruised to a 60-37 win.
It was the Bulldogs third win in a row after dropping consecutive games to 4A teams Evansville Reitz, Castle and Jeffersonville in late December. New Albany coach Jim Shannon said the latest three wins, which came against Madison, Scottsburg and Silver Creek — 3A opponents all — are something to build off of.
But the jury is still out on his squad, he admits.
“You can’t get too low in defeats, and you can’t get too high when you win,” Shannon said. “When you’re winning, you got to take a look at who you’re beating and when you’re losing you got to take a look at who you’re losing to.
“I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we’re losing to really powerful teams. These three wins we have going now, they’re something to build off of, but we’re not going to get slap-happy.”
In building the 17-2 lead over the Dragons (3-10), sophomore guard Jeff Byrne scored eight points on two 3-pointers and a put-back. Center Anthony Edwards, who led the Bulldogs with 14 points, punctuated the run with a dunk at 2:19 left in the first quarter.
“It definitely wasn’t the start we were looking for,” Silver Creek coach Brandon Hoffman said. “We came in hoping they wouldn’t shoot well, and as it happened that was the opposite. Give them credit: they came out lights out.”
New Albany led 30-14 at the half and 34-16 after Edwards threw down another dunk with under 7 minutes left in the third quarter. But Silver Creek’s fullcourt pressure rattled New Albany into three turnovers and resulted in a 9-0 Dragons run that was capped by a steal and basket by Zach Davidson that cut the margin to 34-25 with 3:49 remaining in the third quarter.
“We get in the habit of when things go good, we get caught up in the moment and try and do too much,” Hoffman said. “I was really proud of our effort. I think we came back and almost battled them evenly in the second half. We just, mentally, keep shooting ourselves in the foot.”
After the Davidson basket, Shannon called a 30-second timeout to rally his troops. That they did, scoring the next nine points, with Garrett Arnold capping the run for New Albany with a 3-pointer that made the score 43-25 with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter.
“I don’t think anybody that would have called a timeout at that point is a genius; that just stopped the momentum of what was going on,” Shannon said. “I don’t know if we made any miracle adjustments, other than realizing that we weren’t playing hard all of a sudden.”
New Albany was without second-leading scorer Dre McBirth for the third game. McBirth injured his wrist in the win over Madison last Friday night, but Shannon expects him back for play next week.
Arnold also added 14 points for New Albany. Bauer and Brooks Howell led the Dragons with 11 points apiece.
The Bulldogs travel to Evansville North to face the Huskies Friday night. Silver Creek hosts Providence Tuesday night.