NEW ALBANY — Two of Indiana’s most historic boys basketball teams matched up for the first time on Tuesday as New Albany hosted Class 2A No. 10 Southwestern. In the first meeting between the two, the Bulldogs dominated the Rebels en route to a 79-54 victory.
From the start, New Albany set the tone as they fed the ball inside to 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward Jordan Thomas. However, being undersized is nothing new for the Rebels, and to coach Zac Nussbaum, that wasn’t what stood out.
“They had size on us in every position, but that is nothing new to us. They’re a very good team, and I want to give them all the credit. But I was disappointed in how we responded when we got down (by) double digits,” Nussbaum said. “We got a lot of senior leaders on this team, and the way we responded was what I was disappointed in.”
Southwestern trailed New Albany by two points (15-13) after the first quarter, but the Bulldogs started to pull away in the second quarter as they outscored the Rebels 24-14 to close out the first half.
Southwestern came into the matchup averaging 75.0 points per game but on Tuesday night, the offense wasn’t clicking and the Bulldogs held the Rebels to only 54 points.
Austin Kramer led the Southwestern with 15, Foster Mefford added 13, and Zach Cole had 10.
Matthew Williams entered the contest averaging a team-high 18.2 points per game, but the Southwestern big man tallied just five points as he struggled to establish a post game against the lengthy New Albany defense.
Nussbaum touched on the difficulties his team faced on the offensive end.
“When we got down, we started, I call it, ‘hero ball,’ but we started to one pass, shot, and trying to make a 10-point shot. We stopped moving, and we stopped moving the defense,” Nussbaum said. “And when we got the defense to move side to side, we got some really good looks.”
Kaden Stanton scored 22 points and Tucker Biven had 21 to lead New Albany, which improved to 7-3 on the season. The Bulldogs outrebounded Southwestern 25-19 while shooting 63% (32-of-51) from the floor. Southwestern was 21-for-44 (48%) shooting on its end.
The Rebels, now 9-2 on the season, will be back in action on Friday as they host Ohio River Valley Conference foe Switzerland County.
The leadership of Southwestern’s seniors is what Nussbaum will rely on as the Rebels refocus and try to get back to the top of the ORVC.
“I really believe in these seniors, and they will get this team back focused,” Nussbaum said. “They know this is one game, and everyone is disappointed, but that is why you play New Albany, to expose your weaknesses.”