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Two potential state champions hit the court Thursday night for an early season barnburner, with New Albany holding the upper hand against Myrtle, 62-51.
The game plan for the Lady Bulldogs was simple: keep the ball out of the hands of junior star Aspriona Gilbert, and they did just that in the first quarter, allowing only two points off free throws for the 6’0 standout. While the Lady Hawks could not work their game down low, it was Jenna Jordan from behind the arc that kept Myrtle alive early on, as the sophomore hit three triples and scored 11 of the Lady Hawks’ 17 first quarter points.
Gilbert led Myrtle in the second frame with six points, finishing the night with 17, as New Albany only held a two-point advantage at the half.
“If you can keep her under 20, you’re pretty much going to win,” NAHS head coach John Stroud said. “That was our game plan, to defend her. We have two bigs, they have one big, so we did a good job of guarding her and keeping the ball out of her hands, and I knew they would keep shooting three’s in the first half like they did, so our game plan worked out fine.”
Micha Washington paced the Lady Bulldogs in the third quarter, scoring nine points, but Myrtle would make one more run in the fourth, as Meshay Cox tied the game at 47 early in the frame, but free throws, particularly by Nyambi Penson, put the game away for New Albany.
“She’s our best free throw shooter, so we definitely want her on the line, and the turning point in the game was when they fouled her at the three-point line and she made all three of her shots,” Stroud said. “We did a good job getting the ball to the right people at the right time.”
Washington led New Albany with 20 points, followed by Kebrina Lucas with 14, Penson with 13 and Jazmine Spears with 10 points.
Jordan finished with 14 points for the Lady Hawks.
New Albany 88 Myrtle 67 (boys)
In a game plagued by fouls, New Albany outlasted the Hawks, winning 88-67.
The two teams traded leads, with the Bulldogs holding a three-point advantage after the first despite 10 points from Myrtle's Russ Yates.
With New Albany's two biggest bodies (Tadarius Coburn and Moses Kingsley) not contributing in the first half, New Albany turned to Eric Chaney, who scored 12 first half points, followed by Daniel Drummond with nine.
Robert Montgomery would tie the game with his three-pointer in the third frame, but after Chaney returned from a break in foul trouble, the sophomore helped pressure the Hawks, allowing New Albany to regain the lead.
Outscoring Myrtle 25-9 in the third quarter, the Bulldogs improve to 2-0. Drummond led New Albany with 17 points, followed by 16 by Chaney and Devonte Berry with 13.
Yates finished the night for the Hawks with 23 points.
Myrtle will battle Houlka this weekend for homecoming, while New Albany will next host Kossuth on Tuesday.