NEW ALBANY REBOUNDS FROM LONG WEEK WITH VICTORY
By Parrish Alford
PONTOTOC The Daily Journal’s No. 1 team, New Albany, began the new year with an old result Tuesday a win.
The Bulldogs overcame upset-minded Pontotoc with a 22-4 spurt to start the third quarter on their way to an 83-63 win.
The Lady Bulldogs also began the year with an old result, losing 53-47 to the Pontotoc Lady Warriors.
The Bulldogs (15-1) led by only four at halftime, but came alive in the third quarter, quickly putting out the Pontotoc fire. New Albany was able to contain Pontotoc’s Matt Holladay, who had all 15 of his points in the first half.
“We changed defenses in the third quarter and went to a different type of press, and I think that did bother him,” New Albany coach Warner Bradford said.
Matt Koon, New Albany’s 6-foot-6 forward, was the third quarter catalyst with eight points, a steal and an assist in the spurt. Koon finished with 13 points.
Koon stole the ball from Holladay and fed Cedric Lipsey for a basket and a 60-40 New Albany lead with 3 minutes, 15 seconds left in the third.
It was a 21-point game after three periods, and the Warriors could get no closer than 16 in the fourth quarter.
“Their press just wore us down, and the more they wore us down, the easier it was for them to score,” Pontotoc coach Cory Uselton said.
New Albany also benefitted from a 12-2 edge in offensive rebounds in the second half.
“We played sluggish in the first half,” Bradford said. “That’s not a big surprise after three tough games at Corinth last week. I thought we did a good job of playing hard in the second half.”
The Warriors (10-6) led much of the first half and were up 24-19 at the 7:45 mark of the second quarter when Holladay scored from the baseline with an assist from Tony Crawford.
But the Bulldogs fought back. Eight straight points from sophomore Napolean Smith put New Albany on top. Smith tipped in a miss at the 3:36 mark for a 29-28 New Albany lead, then scored in the lane on the Bulldogs’ next possession, his fourth straight basket.
The New Albany lead reached eight at 40-32 on a 3-pointer from Trey Ivy with 48 seconds left in the half. But Pontotoc made it a four-point game at the break with baskets from Holladay and Joseph Mosely in the final seconds.
Bradley Jones had 13 points for New Albany. Shawn High added 12, and Smith had 11.
Joe Dan Roberts added 13 points for Pontotoc.
n In the girls’ game, turnovers kept the Lady Warriors (9-7) from putting things out of reach in the third quarter. The Pontotoc girls led just 27-24 at halftime, but opened the quarter with a 9-1 run.
Pontotoc led by as much as 14 in the period, but New Albany (2-12) battled back. When April Crayton went end to end with a steal at the buzzer, the Pontotoc lead was 41-34.
But a Phebe Roberson 3-pointer at the 6:45 mark of the fourth put the Lady Warriors up by double digits again. Roberson led Pontotoc with 16 points, and Shawn Cooperwood added 14. Marnecha Johnson had 18 for New Albany, and Bridget Gordon added 17.