The Bulldogs approached their rematch with North Pontotoc with a new defense, and New Albany responded, defeating the Vikings, 79-44.
The last time these two teams met, the ‘Dawgs squeaked out a 57-54 win at North. With a different scheme on defense, head coach Brad Gray saw his team commit four straight turnovers leading to an early 15-5 lead in the first quarter.
“Last time we played them, defensively I didn’t we played them very well, but offensively I think we executed very well,” Gray said. “Tonight, our kids came out and really turned it up defensively, and they played with a lot more effort and intensity, and they were aggressive on offense attacking the basket more and not sitting back on their heels.”
Both teams traded baskets in the opening minutes, but after a triple by Kareem Brown, the ‘Dawgs took the lead for good, as New Albany went on a 11-0 run.
Leading 25-14 heading into the second, Devonte Berry scored the Bulldogs’ first six points and a three pointer by Malcolm Spears made it 40-18.
Taking a 20 point lead to the half, Tadarious Coburn had the hot hand in the third frame, scoring 10 of his 16 points in the third quarter. One area that hurt the Bulldogs were the amount of fouls, as the Vikings made no baskets in the fourth quarter, only scoring from the charity stripe, going 9-for-14. North Pontotoc also only made three field goals in the entire second half, showing that Gray’s change on defense worked.
“We figured we’re putting teams in the double bonus in the first half, sitting back and playing passive, why not be more aggressive and create more turnovers? We’re probably going to foul the same amount, so we changed the way we played defense and the kids really responded.”
NAHS (11-6, 4-2) will take on Myrtle in the Union County Tournament at 7:00 p.m. Friday night.