NEW ALBANY - New Albany coach Scotty Shettles had watched his team defeat West Union by 54 and 27 points in two previous games this season.
He was concerned about how his players would respond in a third matchup in Friday’s semifinals of the Union County Tournament.
The Bulldogs, behind 28 points from senior guard Mitchell Shettles, defeated the Eagles 82-64 to advance to Saturday’s championship game.
“I knew it would be a tough matchup for us because we had played them twice,” Scotty Shettles said. “When you play a team a third time you have to find a way to beat them. I thought that’s what my guys did.”
New Albany (15-4) connected on 22 of 27 free throws for 81 percent. Shettles was 10-for-10 from the foul line for the Bulldogs, who hit on 13-for-14 in the fourth quarter to keep the charging Eagles at bay.
West Union (12-8) cut New Albany’s lead to 10 four times late in the third and early in the fourth quarter. The Eagles were led by their senior guard Luke Willard, who scored a game-high 31 points.
Sophomore 6-foot-3 forward Albert McDonald was a force inside early and helped New Albany build a 20-11 first-quarter lead.
Shettles connected on three first-half 3-pointers to give the Bulldogs a 37-25 halftime lead. He finished with four 3-pointers.
Willard kept the turnover-marred Eagles in contention early, scoring 17 of his points in the first half. His layup midway in the second quarter pulled West Union to within four at 25-21.
Isaiah Ball and Artaveion High scored 11 points each for New Albany. McDoanld added 10.
Caleb Graves scored 18 for West Union.
NEW ALBANY (15-4)
M. Shettles 28, I. Ball 11, A. High 11, A. McDonald 10, K. Carter 8, M. Casey 6, M. Smith 6, T. Shannon 2.
WEST UNION (12-8)
L. Willard 31, C. Graves 18, S. Callicutt 6, B. Robertson 5, B. Phillips 3, J. McDonald 1.
Halftime- New Albany 37, West Union 25.