New Albany too much for Owls

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New Albany’s quest for its second state title in four years didn’t hit a snag in its first postseason game of the 2017-18 season.

The Class 4A No. 3 Bulldogs opened up a 35-point lead by halftime in a 84-42 win against the Sectional 15 hosts, Seymour, on Friday at a packed Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium.

Romeo Langford and Sean East combined for 63 points in the blow out win for the Bulldogs.

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Langford, currently sits at fourth all-time in points scored in state history, now at 2,883 points for his career. He’s 251 points behind former Bedford North Lawrence player Damon Bailey’s record.

The Bulldogs (22-1) came off of the opening tip on fire.

Two dunks by Langford — including one behind his head on a breakaway — and a pair of 3-pointers from East gave the Bulldogs a 12-0 lead with 4:39 on the clock.

NAHS scored seven more unanswered points before the Owls’ Ty McCory converted an and-one to cut the deficit to 19-3 five minutes into the game.

In the final 2:11 of the first quarter the Owls were able to tack on seven more points, but the Bulldogs would maintain the lead at 27-10.

In the first quarter, East drained four total 3-pointers.

Following scores from Alan Perry and Jack Roberts, the Bulldogs went on a 16-0 run to lead 45-14 with 2:34 left in the half.

A 3-pointer by McCory stopped the Owls’ bleeding, but the Bulldogs went on a 7-0 run in the final two minutes.

At intermission, the Bulldogs led 52-17.

East added three more 3-pointers and a layup in the second quarter to lead all scorers with 23 points. Langford had 16 points at intermission.

Seymour turned the ball over 15 times in the first half to the Bulldogs’ three giveaways.

“We talked before the game, and said we’re going to have to play a perfect game to have a chance,” Owls coach Tyler Phillips said. “They came out and made us uncomfortable. They’re ranked No. 3 in the state for a reason: It’s a state championship or bust for them.”

Out of the break, the Bulldogs continued to pour on the points.

East and Langford combined for 14 of the Bulldogs’ 16 unanswered points out of halftime — including four straight 3-pointers — to lead 68-17 with 4:14 left in the third quarter.

McCory hit a 3-pointer and Tiller Cummings combined for five points before the end of the quarter, but the Bulldogs led 76-22 going into the final eight minutes of play.

The Owls went on a 15-6 run the latter half of the fourth quarter, but were unable to close the gap as the time rolled out.

Langford led the Bulldogs with 32 points and East scored 31 on nine 3-pointers. McCory topped the Owls with 16 points.

“I feel like Sean East is the most underrated player in the state of Indiana,” Phillips said. “He is a (NCAA) Division I kid. If he doesn’t play next to Romeo, he’s a first ballot Indiana All-Star. He may be anyway, but those two together are the best backcourt to come out of Indiana in a long time.”

The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle 37-25 and turnover margin 4-22.

Seymour will graduate six seniors from its program.

“I told the them that 40 years from now, when we get this program where it’s supposed to be and I’m retiring, and someone asks me what the turning point was, I’m going to name all six of those seniors,” Phillips said. “Their attitude, effort and passion for Seymour has gotten this program back on track. It has nothing to do with me and my staff, it’s those six seniors.”

The win marked the 20th straight for the Bulldogs over the Owls.

The 12-12 season finish is the best for the Owls since the 2009-10 season, when they went 10-10. The Owls haven’t finished with a record above .500 since 2006-07 (15-7).

Tonight, No. 4 Floyd Central (24-1) — winners of seven straight games — will play the Bulldogs for the sectional championship. In the early game at SHS on Friday, the Highlanders defeated No. 6 Jeffersonville (20-4) 50-46. The Highlanders defeated the Bulldogs 49-47 in overtime on Dec. 8.

“There’s no question this is the best sectional in the state,” Phillips said. “There’s a reason why there were 8,000 people in this gym (Friday). (Tonight), in my opinion, we’re going to see the best two teams in the state of Indiana play.”

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