On the road to semi-state: Cards to take on New Albany tomorrow


Mark Carlson, Reporter

For the first time since the 1990 season, an SHS basketball team has made it to semi-state. In their semi-state matchup, the Cards will face top-ranked New Albany for a chance to compete for a state championship at Bankers Life Fieldhouse the following weekend.

According to the IHSAA coaches poll and the sagarin.com computer ratings, New Albany is the number one team in the state by a fairly large margin. According to ESPN, they have the 21st best sophomore in the country on their team, Romeo Langford, who averages 29 points and nine rebounds per game. They boast a record of 25-1 and have wins against Evansville Reitz and Carmel.

“They are really, really good, and they have Romeo Langford, who is one of the best sophomores in the country, but I think we can match up with them,” Coach Kyle Simpson said.

The one blemish that New Albany has on their record is a five-point loss to Pike.

The Cards are riding a 15-game winning streak heading in the game against New Albany. During that stretch, SHS has beaten Pike, Lawrence North, Lawrence Central and Evansville Reitz who all ended the season ranked in the top 15.

While Langford could be a problem for SHS, the Cardinals have their own wealth of individual talent. SHS has the 36th best junior in the country in Paul Scruggs. He averages nearly 20 points per game and starts alongside senior Joey Brunk who averages 17 points and eight rebounds. Brunk’s and Scruggs’s talent weigh heavily on opponents’ minds, according to New Albany coach James Shannon.

“Southport’s (attack) starts with Brunk and Scruggs. Those two can cause havoc for an opponent,” Shannon wrote in an email to the Journal. “The key for us will be to keep them off the offensive boards and not allow second and third shots.”

According to Simpson, a lot of what will determine the game will be small variables, such as physicality and speed of play. He says that playing physical could help SHS defensively, but when New Albany played Bloomington South (a physical team) they shot 49 free throws and gained easy points from those.
Another variable SHS has to try to control is how they guard Langford. In games against Franklin Central, North Central and Lawrence Central, SHS has faced high-scoring players. In the games against Lawrence Central and North Central, SHS kept star players Kyle Guy and Kris Wilkes in check for most of the game which helped SHS to win. But in the loss to FC, the Cardinals couldn’t stop Marcus Burk, who finished the game with 34 points. In regionals they held Jaylen Minnett of Terre Haute South to six points after he scored 39 in the game prior. If SHS can limit New Albany’s star players, they can put themselves in a good position to win, according to Simpson.