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Floyd slips in overtime nail-biter


December 14, 2011
On a night that saw the Floyd Central gymnasium filled to capacity to standing room only, and the court given a new name, the Floyd Central Highlanders and New Albany Bulldogs treated fans of both teams to a royal rumble with the Bulldogs edging the Highlanders, 58-57, in an overtime win.

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An emotional Joe Hinton, with his family by his side, pulls away the covering and waves to the standing-room-only crowd Friday night during a ceremony honoring the former coach with the Floyd court being named in his honor.
The night was one of emotion for more than one reason. First, with the game itself being a battle between two major county rivals, and the other honoring former Floyd Central coach Joe Hinton, who has now been immortalized with the floor being named Joe Hinton Court.

Not only was Hinton the school's first coach, but he also became the school's winningest coach. Besides winning three Hoosier Hills titles, 14 sectionals, six regionals and two semi-states, Hinton also coached four consecutive cross country teams to state championships.

"It's a great thing for him and our school," said current coach Randy Gianfagna. "He was the first coach here and, coming over from Georgetown, he did a lot of great things. I thought he deserved everything he got."

Hinton and everybody else in the stands, however, were ready to see a ballgame, and they got their money's worth early as Floyd held a 13-10 edge at the end of the first period. The Bulldogs closed their deficit to one with six minutes to go in the half when Garrett Arnold drained a three-ball. Gavin O'Neal and Connor Schellenberg countered for the Highlanders, pushing their lead back to five. Nick Hartog added a deuce, and Floyd's lead expanded to 23-16.

Arnold answered again for the Bulldogs with back-to-back triples, the second turning into a four-point play to tie the game at 23. Moments later Arnold dropped a pair in front of the stripe, giving New Albany a 25-23 edge. Quinton Miller and O'Neal put in three freebies for a Floyd lead. A.J. Schmidt countered inside, and the Bulldogs took a 27-26 edge to the locker room at halftime.

"We were worried about the big kid inside and (Arnold) kept them in the first half," Gianfagna said. "We let him open on an out-of-bounds play and kind of got his confidence, and I think we fouled. That was an and-one in the corner, and they got four on that and they got two and-ones there at the end. Those are things you just can't do."

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Floyd Central’s Gavin O’Neal flies around New Albany’s Drew King in the first half. O’Neal finished with 15 points, but the Bulldogs came away with a 58-57 overtime win. Photos by Wade Bell
New Albany got the opening basket of the second half, but Floyd responded with seven unanswered points to lead 36-29. Trevor Brown and Arnold scored for the 'dogs, but Schellenberg hit twice from the stripe to keep Floyd's lead at five, 38-22, with a quarter to go.

Floyd built its lead to nine, 44-35, less than two minutes into the fourth and kept some breathing space until the Bulldogs began a run in the last three minutes of regulation. Jermain Parrish scored, then Leondre McBirth and Arnold drilled back-to-back three-balls, closing the gap to one, 48-47, with a minute to go. Following a New Albany time-out, Parrish scored to put the Bulldogs on top. With 10 seconds left, Schellenberg hit one of two free throws, making the score 49-49, and the game went into overtime.

"We took one or two bad shots but, when you're 17 of 27 from the free throw line, that doesn't help either," Gianfagna said. "We fouled on two and-ones so, when you foul, at least give them after the two. Those were some things we didn't do very well. The main thing is, when you miss 10 free throws, do you deserve to win?"

Jordan Thompson and Miller got two quick baskets to put Floyd up by four, 53-49, with 2:08 to go. After Schmidt sank a Bulldogs free throw, O'Neal and Bomersbach each sank one of two free throws, and Floyd's lead was back at 55-51. Schmidt scored again, but Bomersbach sank both freebies, and Floyd's lead was at 57-53 with a half-minute to go. Schmidt scored again, then McBirth converted for a deuce-and-one on a Floyd turnover for a 58-57 Bulldogs edge with 11.2 seconds left.

Floyd called a time-out to set up the final play. The Highlanders quickly moved the ball down the floor, and O'Neal bounced a short jumper off the rim. Thompson grabbed the board and quickly shot the ball to Bomersbach, who could only watch as the ball bounced high off the right side of the rim, allowing the Bulldogs to escape with the 58-57 win.

"We missed 10 free throws, and we took some crazy shots," Gianfagna said. "Even if we had won tonight, I don't think we played very well. I thought we played hard ... I was not disappointed with our effort. I just thought with our execution we just didn't deserve to win. We played hard enough. We didn't execute hard enough."

Gavin O'Neal led the Highlanders with 15 for the night, and Nick Bomersbach followed close behind with 14. Quinton Miller added 10 for the Highlanders, who was 18 of 44 from the field (41 percent) and 17 of 27 from the charity stripe. Floyd had 12 turnovers.

"If you look at any of our New Albany games, they just blow us out in the first quarter and then we're playing catch-up," Gianfagna said. "I said, 'Let's not do that.' Tonight, we did what we wanted. I was real happy how we started the overtime. We went right where we wanted with the ball. It was just one of those deals. We didn't close the deal, and they did."

Garrett Arnold led New Albany with 20, and A.J. Schmidt added 11. The Bulldogs shot slightly better from the field, hitting 21 of 50 field goals (42 percent). New Albany connected on 10 of 14 free throws and committed 11 turnovers.

"It was a good, hard-fought game," Gianfagna said. "One of things I've said before tonight is we haven't held up our end of the bargain lately in the six years since I've been here. Tonight, our kids held up our end of the bargain. We just came up a little bit short tonight."

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Barbara Shaw
Schuler Bauer
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