Southern Indiana Living

MAR-APR 2018

Southern Indiana Living magazine is the exclusive publication of the region, offering readers a wide range of coverage on the people, places and events that make our area unlike any other. In SIL readers will find beautiful photography, encouraging s

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Mar/Apr 2018 • 22 head coach at 24, turning around a strug- gling program at North Decatur, then spent six years at South Dearborn. Next was a three-rear stop at Lebanon, another hotbed where the legendary Rick Mount played. Twenty years ago, Shannon "hit the jackpot" and landed his dream job at New Albany, a city school where success is measured in tournament wins. For four years, the history teacher has had both the luxury of coaching a once-in-a-lifetime talent and the challenge of melding a team around him season by season. This year, three-year starter East is back as floor general. The 6-foot-1 lefty played on the Louisville Legends AAU team with Langford and moved to New Albany so they could play together in high school. A crafty and steady ball-han- dler, East averages more than 18 points and 5 assists per game while shooting nearly 50 percent from three-point range. He currently has a scholarship offer from NAIA Huntington and is drawing interest from IUPUI, Ball State, UNC-Greensboro and Vincennes. The team is filled out with role play- ers who focus on defense, rebounding, screening and taking advantage of the shots that materialize when defenses key on Langford and East. Derrick Stevenson, a 6-1 forward, shares ball-handling duties with the seniors and has scored in double figures several times. Trey Hourigan, a 6-5 sophomore center, is a good rebounder and shooter with 3-point range. And Ju- lien "Juju" Hunter, a quick-jumping 6-3 sophomore forward, crashes the boards for frequent put-backs and gets his share of highlight reel dunks. Darin Starks, a 5-8 sophomore guard, is first off the bench, usually sub- bing for Hunter or Hourigan and making New Albany even faster and more likely to press. Chris Johnson, a 5-9 junior guard, is seeing more playing time, and senior Savion Southers has contributed off the bench. Hunter, who started last year as a freshman, is playing for family pride. His grandfather Wilbert Hunter started on the 1971 team that was knocked off by an up- start Floyd Central team in the sectional, and his father Chad was a four-year start- er whose teams won two semi-states and three regionals. Chad Hunter, now the pastor at New Dimensions Christian Church and fighting back from recent strokes, held the school's career record for both points and rebounds before Langford came along. Juju, a star-in-waiting, said playing with the guy who broke his father's records is an incredible experience. "Romeo is very humble and he talks to us about things that can help the team," he said. "In practice, he takes words out of coaches' mouths. He and Sean are quiet on the court because they're focused." Off the court, though, their team- mates say Langford and East are hilarious and keep them loose with silliness. Last year, for example, Langford told Hunter that coach Jim Shannon needed to see him urgently. It was a ruse, and the team cracked up when the freshman came back to the locker room. Hunter also caught the business from Langford again just last month: "One day I wore pajama pants and slides with no socks," he says, referring to the sports sandals that are a youth fashion staple these days. "I don't know why I did it. ... He was making jokes about my toes." Asked what the public might not re- alize about the team, Hunter has a ready answer: "One thing most people don't know is we've got a nice group of nor- mal kids. If we're not on the court, we're at home. We don't expose ourselves to trouble. "When kids ask us to do such and such or go to this place and that place, we Pictured (this page): e New Albany gym, known as e Doghouse, is routinely filled with about 4,000 fans, many of whom are season-ticket holders. (Right-hand page, from top) Lang ford has signed just about everything — photos, jerseys, tennis shoes, cell phone cases, and even the occasional onesie; Coach Jim Shannon, in his 20th year at New Albany, encourages Lang ford and Derrick Stevenson (No. 11) during a time-out.

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