By Adama Gore/Special to the Journal
NEW ALBANY – For those who might have forgotten, the New Albany Bulldogs have got game, too.
Senior Malcolm Spears came off the bench to score a game-high 19 points and sophomore Moses Kingsley blocked seven shots as the Bulldogs defeated the Greenwood Bulldogs 68-52 to advance to tonight’s Class 4A boys North championship game.
Senior Tadarious Coburn got the Bulldogs off to a hot start, connecting on his first four shots of the game to give New Albany a 17-8 lead in the first quarter before Spears entered the game late in the first quarter to connect on all six of his first-half shot to push New Albany out to a 36-21 lead at the break.
“It’s always important anytime you got they type of momentum and rhythm those guys helped us get to start the game,” said New Albany coach Brad Gray. “It gave us a little leeway to be able to be more aggressive and take chances on defense because the mistakes we made weren’t going to hurt us as bad as when the shots aren’t falling.”
New Albany (28-3) turned up the intensity defensively in the second half. With Kingsley’s presence inside, the Bulldogs dominated the boards as they quickly pulled away for a 54-34 lead by the end of the third quarter.
Greenwood continued to battle in the final frame, but the night belonged to the homestanding Bulldogs.
“I’ve been waiting for our guys to play with that type of intensity for four quarters of basketball all year,” said Gray. “The effort was there for 32 minutes offensively and defensively.”
Playing in the shadows of their female counterparts, the Bulldogs have quietly put together a 25-win season and punched their ticket to next week’s Class 4A state tournament in Jackson with Friday’s victory.
Coburn finished with 16 and Devonta Berry added 14 points for the Bulldogs. Lance Harris and D’ondre Jackson score 14 each to lead Greenwood in scoring.
The Bulldogs now set their sights on the North title as they take on Rosa Fort (28-2) tonight at 7 in New Albany.
The Lions defeated Amanda Elzy 69-53 in the second game of the night behind a 19-point performance from Dedrick Westbrook.
Tied 46-46 at the end of the third quarter, Rosa Fort took control of the game after back-to-back 3-pointers and a pair of crowd-pleasing dunks from Labarron Collins early in the final frame and maintained a 10-point lead throughout the quarter to advance to tonight’s championship game and also to next week’s state tournament.
Janarius Middleton led Elzy (20-10) with 13 points in the loss.