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New Albany’s opponent in this year’s Hotbed Classic was everything advertised, and the Bulldogs had a strong showing before watching Bob Jones pull away in the fourth quarter of their 74-64 win.
Alabama signee Levi Randolph opened the contest with back-to-back dunks, and despite falling behind 8-2, Tadarious Colburn kept New Albany on track, scoring 10 first quarter points. The Bulldogs went ahead off of free throws by Malcolm Spears and maintained that lead until the end of the half, when Kyle Dennis hit a three-pointer to give the Patriots the 32-31 advantage.
“We need to play a little smarter at times and do things differently,” Bulldogs head coach Brad Gray said. “We had a five point lead right before the end of the first half, we take a bad shot, they get the rebound and score, then we have a turnover and they get the buzzard beater, so we’ve got to work on being smarter.”
New Albany had one more lead in the game off an early third quarter basket by Colburn, but Jeffrey Moss gave Bob Jones their final lead soon after and the Patriots pulled away, connecting on 18-of-23 free throws in the second half.
“We got out of sync. I thought the key for us was to control the tempo and the pace of the game, and I knew that if we ever got behind, they were going to dictate the tempo and spread us out,” Gray said. “This is they type of team that if you’re down to them, they get you out of sync and you’re left playing catch up and forcing things you normally wouldn’t do. The kids battled and left everything out on the floor. I was very pleased with our effort.”
Colburn was named the Player of the Game finishing with 15 points. Kareem Brown also finished with 15 points, and Malcolm Spears added 13 points.
Randolph led Bob Jones with 19 points.
Bob Jones 48 New Albany 39 (g)
A physical match-up went in favor of the Lady Patriots, as they used an 11-2 fourth quarter run to defeat New Albany in the girls game of the Hotbed Classic.
Neither team started strong, as the first quarter ended in a 5-5 tie. A 7-0 run along with Tierra Jones’ six second quarter points helped Bob Jones take the lead, 21-15 at the half.
“We couldn’t get the ball to go in and we our guard play wasn’t very good tonight,” NAHS head coach John Stroud said. “You can’t play like that against this type of team and expect to win at home.”
Jazmine Spears and the Lady ‘Dawgs used a 6-0 run to open the second half, tying the game at 21, but the Lady Patriots responded with a 5-0 run to stay in control. New Albany’s final push came in the fourth quarter, as the Lady Bulldogs tied the game at 37 off a 9-2 run. Bob Jones then connected on nine free throws to extend their lead and take the win.
Spears and Micha Washington each finished with 11 points, followed by 10 from Kebrina Lucas. This was an uncharacteristic performance for the Lady ‘Dawgs, as four players fouled out, and this is the team’s first home loss since the 2008-2009 season.
“They were very physical, and we haven’t seen anyone play that rough on defense. It totally took us out of our offense,” Stroud said. “We’ll see in the next ball game how they’re going to react to it. We played a very physical team tonight, and you don’t see teams like that around here.”
New Albany will next play on Tuesday, hosting Pontotoc.