April 9, 1978: Thompson-Gervin scoring explosion an NBA epic for the ages

April 9, 1978: Thompson-Gervin scoring explosion an NBA epic for the ages

Back by popular demand! 

Well, not really. It’s just that this arguably is my favorite single-day ‘event’ in the history of NBA hoops — and such a mind-boggling and cool thing that, well 

gervin david thompson april 10, 1978 scoring title shootout

… If ever there was a time when I wish the days of yesteryear had all of today’s electronic gadgetry and virtually non-stop coverage of sporting events, it would have been 40 years ago — April 9, 1978, to be exact.

On that Sunday, two of the most explosive scorers in basketball history hooked up in a long-distance scoring duel that has never been equaled.

David Thompson, a star on the Denver Nuggets in both the NBA and ABA, and George Gervin, a scoring machine for the San Antonio Spurs in both leagues, entered the final day of the 1977-78 season with Gervin leading Thompson in the scoring race by 0.2 points per game — 26.8 to 26.6.

david thompson nuggets skywalker circa 1978
David Thompson … The ‘Skywalker’ (AP Photo)

In an afternoon game at Detroit, Thompson scored 73 points against the Pistons but it wasn’t enough as Detroit won, 139-137. 

Several hours later, Gervin didn’t score quite that much, but still racked up 63 points in a 153-132 loss to the New Orleans Jazz.

In the closest scoring race in NBA history, ‘The Iceman’ edged ‘Skywalker’ for the scoring crown, 27.22 points per game to 27.15.

Thompson, who led North Carolina State to the 1974 NCAA championship, made 13-of-14 shots and all 6 of his free throws in the first quarter to score 32 points, and tallied 21 more in the second stanza to amass 53 points by halftime.

Thompson cooled off in the second half, making 8-of-15 shots to score 20 points. His shooting stats for the day: 28-for-38 from the floor, 17-of-20 free throws, 73 points.

“Whether we won or lost, we were still headed for the playoffs. So coach (Larry Brown) was willing to let me shoot to my heart’s content to win the NBA scoring title,” Thompson said in his 2003 book ‘Skywalker.’ 

“I was definitely in the zone; I felt like Superman on steroids. There wasn’t a shot I put up that I didn’t think — as soon as it left my hands — would go anywhere but in the hoop.” 

ABA Spurs Gervin
‘The Iceman’ … George Gervin. (NBA/Getty Images)

Gervin said he was taking a nap in his hotel room when a Spurs beat reporter called him on the phone to tell him Thompson had scored 73 points. 

“I said, ‘Well, that’s it,’ and I hung up and went back to sleep,” Gervin told George Vecsey of the New York Times during a 1996 interview. 

“Down in the lobby later, some of the guys on the Spurs said, ‘Ice, we’re going to help you.’ … They kept giving me the ball and early in the game I couldn’t put the ball in the basket, but after awhile I got going.” 

After missing his first 6 shots, Gervin thought he had no chance at scoring the 58 points he needed to win the title. 

However, the Eastern Michigan product caught fire, scoring 20 points in the first quarter and a then-record 33 in the second.

The 4-time NBA scoring champ finished with 63 points in just 33 minutes. He made 23-of-49 field goals and 17-of-20 foul shots.

“I would only have agreed to do it if all 11 of my teammates had approved,” Gervin told the Rocky Mountain News. “… 58 points was a hell of a task, but I was confident I could do it.”

Gervin Thompson Jabbar 1979 NBA All-Star game - Getty Images
David Thompson (32) moves in on George Gervin during the 1979 NBA All-Star game at the Pontiac Silverdome. (NBA/Getty Images)

One of Gervin’s teammates on the 1977-78 Spurs was former Southport High School, University of Kentucky and Kentucky Colonels ABA standout Louie Dampier.

A teammate of Thompson’s on Denver was former Anderson Madison Heights and Indiana University star Bobby Wilkerson.

Gervin averaged 25.1 points during his 15-year, 1,060-game career.

A 5-time All-Star, Thompson, whose career was curtailed by a severe knee injury and addiction to cocaine, averaged 22.7 points in 592 games over 9 seasons.

Gervin and Thompson were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996. 

Gervin and Thompson
George Gervin and David Thompson … Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 1996. (NBA/Getty Images)

 

 

 

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Spartans, coaching staff look forward to next season

Spartans, coaching staff look forward to next season

chs-spartans-logo

A pride-filled season for fans of the Connersville Spartans boys basketball program culminated in an enjoyable way, with all eyes looking toward a future that seems bright for the Spartans — and the players moving on to or already playing at the collegiate level. 

With 2017 CHS graduate Grant Smith making a significant contribution all season, Indiana Wesleyan University won the NAIA Division II Mens national basketball championship on March 13 by defeating another Indiana school, Saint Francis, 84 71, in the title game. It is the Marion-based school’s third national title in five years.

Indiana Wesleyan’s gain with the addition of Smith to its roster was a loss for the Spartans, as was the departure of the other four seniors on CHS’ 2016-17 team which finished 27-2. 

Noah Belt - Cathedral - Wettig Dec. 29, 2017 - Doug J
Connersvile junior Noah Belt earned a spot on the 2018 EIAC All-Conference team. The 6-0 forward averaged 10.3 points and 3.3 rebounds a game. (Photo by Doug Jordan)

However, head coach Kerry Brown’s forces barely missed a beat, and no doubt surprised some people, finishing 21-5 — the school’s third straight 20-plus win season — and winning the Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference championship for the fourth consecutive time. 

Connersville’s season came to an end on March 2 in the semifinals of Class 4A Sectional 9 at Richmond, when a determined and hot-shooting Mt. Vernon Marauders team pulled out a 55-49 win. 

Like last year, this season’s Spartans’ squad will lose several seniors — Garrett Silcott, Dalton Lee, Wes Smith, Braxton Revalee, Drew Sherck, Tyler Combs and Dalton Ailes. 

But the cupboard is far from bare for CHS, with juniors Noah Belt and Dylan Logan, sophomores Jacob Brown, Clay Garrison, Ethan Smith and Garrett Wickes, and freshman Jonah Graham returning. 

Belt and Silcott were named to the EIAC All-Conference team. 

Silcott, who was voted the EIAC’s MVP by the league’s coaches, will attend and play hoops at IU East — a team Indiana Wesleyan defeated in the NAIA Division II semifinals. The Red Wolves (34-3) were the top-rated team in NAIA Division II in the final regular season poll, and the top overall seed in the tournament.

Silcott G glides for 2 vs Northeastern -Doug j
Senior Garrett Silcott, who led Connersville in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals, will play for NAIA Division II power IU East. (Photo by Doug Jordan)

Another encouraging factor for CHS is the Spartans’ pipeline — the Jr. Spartans — who finished 20-4, just the second time a Connersville JV team has won 20 games in a season. 

Brown said the team’s loss to Mt. Vernon was disappointing for all of the players, particularly the seniors.

“And we’re really going to miss our seniors. All of them contributed so much to our success,” he said. “Our underclassmen have some big shoes to fill next year but we have some excellent underclassmen and I know they’ll keep working hard to fill those shoes.

“I’m proud of all the players in our lockerroom. We do need to have more toughness — the toughness this year’s seniors had — or we won’t be a very good team.

“I know we’ll work hard to develop that same toughness and we’re looking forward to next season.” 

While CHS will lose 804 points and 329 rebounds to graduation, Jr. Spartans head coach Chris Bottomley is confident the members of his team who join the varsity next season will continue to improve and help the Spartans continuing their winning ways. 

Botts Brown Miller vs Centerville 2018 - Doug g
Varsity assistant coach JD Miller, head coach Kerry Brown and junior varsity coach Chris Bottomley (left to right) keep a close eye on the Spartans and their opponent during a regular season game. (Photo by Doug Jordan)

Building around Belt, who averaged 10.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists, the 6-6 Brown (4.8 points, 3.0 rebounds) and Garrison (3.9 points, 1.4 rebounds), Connersville hopes to get significant contributions from Graham, who led the Jr. Spartans in scoring (11.8 along with 3.3 rebounds) and played in nine varsity games, Ethan Smith (9.2 points, 4.2 boards) who played in eight varsity contests, and Colton Sullenbarger (6.5 points, 2.2 rebounds). 

Wickes and Logan also have varsity experience, playing in 21 and six games, respectively, last season. 

“I’m so proud of the fight the kids had in them every practice and on game nights. They bought in to what we’re doing and played the roles they were given,” said Bottomley, noting that six players shot over 50 percent on 2-point attempts with two — Graham and Tanner Brock — making more than 40 percent from 3-point territory, with Graham’s .448 marksmanship tops. 

“Our stats were awesome,” Bottomley continued. “All the players produced big numbers at their positions this season. We’re continuing to work on toughness, help defense, drawing charging fouls and being smart on the defensive end at all times, hoping that rolls over to the offensive end so we can get great shot opportunities to be successful. 

“We did that this season which are some of the key reasons our stats were so good and why we were 20-4.” 

The JV had two 7-game winning streaks in 2017-18 and won 17 of 19 games during one stretch.

Bottomley said the Jr. Spartans who are elevated to the varsity will continue to play tough defense, share the ball and play unselfishly, as will next year’s JV squad.

A former Spartan who played for Larry Bullington and graduated in 1990, this season marked Bottomley’s 20th year as a basketball coach at Connersville — 10 years as head coach of the junior varsity squad and 10 years as head coach of the Middle School’s 7th Grade Red team.

He said the CHS coaching staff is preparing for another winning season, which tips off on Wednesday, Nov. 21 — Thanksgiving Eve — at Spartan Bowl.

“Our staff is outstanding and everyone works very hard for our teams to be successful — JD Miller … Zac Rea … everyone,” he said.

“I can’t say enough about the outstanding job Kerry does, and that hard work continues in the offseason. He attends clinics and does so many other things to continue to grow our student athletes to their full potentials.

“We’ve got good kids who are good players with high character. I couldn’t be happier in the direction the program is going in.”

CHS 2017-18 final stats (21-5)

Garrett Silcott: 413 pts / 15.9 ppg, 5.0 r, 2.5 a, 2.2 st, 0.3 bk •

Noah Belt: 268 pts / 10.3 ppg, 3.3 r, 1.6 a, 1.2 st

Dalton Lee: 139 pts / 5 ppg, 2.3 r, 1.5 a, 0.6 st •

Jacob Brown: 126 pts / 4.8 ppg, 3.0 r, 0.5 bk, 0.4 st, 0.3 a

Wes Smith: 108 pts / 4.2 ppg, 2.8 r, 0.5 a, 0.2 st •

Clay Garrison: 93 pts / 3.9 ppg, 1.4 r, 1.4 st, 1.3 a (24 games)

Braxton Revalee: 85 pts / 3.3 ppg, 1.7 r, 1.5 a, 0.7 st •

Drew Sherck: 34 pts / 1.4 ppg, 0.7 r, 0.2 st (25 games) •

Tyler Combs: 17 pts / 0.7 ppg, 0.7 r, 0.3 a (23 games) •

Garrett Wickes: 11 pts / 0.5 ppg, 0.3 r, 0.2 a (21 games)

Jonah Graham: 9 pts / 1.0 p, 0.1 r, 0.1 a (9 games)

Dalton Ailes: 8 pts / 0.8 p, 0.1 r (10 games) •

Ethan Smith: 4 pts / 0.5 ppg, 0.4 r (8 games)

Dylan Logan: 3 pts / 0.5 ppg, 0.3 r, 0.2 a (6 games)

(• = senior)

Jr. Spartans 2017-18 final stats (20-4)

Jonah Graham: 11.8 ppg, 3.3 r, 1.8 a

Ethan Smith: 9.2 p, 4.2 r, 2.4 a

Colton Sullenbarger: 6.5 p, 2.2 r, 1.4 a

Dylan Logan: 4.2 p, 3.1 r, 1.5 a

Garrett Wickes: 3.6 p, 1.4 a, 1.3 r

Trevor Young: 2.7 p, 0.9 r

Damon Huffman: 2.6 p, 2.2 r

Sebastian Burch: 2.4 p, 2.3 r

Brayden Back: 2.2 p, 1.3 a

Tanner Brock: 1.7 p, 1.0 r

Riley Moore: 0.4 p, 0.4 r

(Stats via MaxPreps) 

IWU 2018 NAIA Champs on-court photo
The 2018 NAIA Division II Men’s National Champion Indiana Wesleyan University Wildcats. (Photo courtesy IWU Athletics)

Grant Smith NAIA 1
Indiana Wesleyan’s Grant Smith drives to the basket against Morningside (Iowa) during the NAIA Men’s Division II Basketball Championship quarterfinals. (Photo courtesy IWU Athletics)

Notes: The other four seniors on Connersville’s 2016-17 team were Beau Isaacs, Hunter Sullenbarger, Dalton Huffman and Gavin Wickes. …

Grant Smith scored 13 points (11 in the second half) on 5-of-7 shooting, grabbed 4 rebounds and passed for 4 assists in the Wildcats’ win over St. Francis in the NAIA DII championship game. …

Smith had 12 points (6-of-9 FGs) and 3 rebounds in IWU’s victory over IU East. … For the season, the versatile 6-6 skywalker averaged 9.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1 steal, playing 782 minutes in 37 games. …

Charles Peterson IU East 2018
Charles Peterson

Former Spartan Charles Peterson played his final game at IU East when the Red Wolves lost to Indiana Wesleyan, 75-72. The 6-0 senior scored 9 points (3-of-5 3-pointers) and dished 1 assist. Peterson averaged 7.9 points and 1 assist in 32 games. … 

Joel Okafor Indiana Wesleyan - 2018
Joel Okafor

Indiana Wesleyan junior Joel Okafor scored a career-high 18 points (6-of-6 FGs, 6-of-6 free throws) and added 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals against IU East.

The former Richmond Red Devil and Indiana All-Star averaged 7.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.3 steals. …

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Indiana Wesleyan, IU East ready for NAIA showdown

Indiana Wesleyan, IU East ready for NAIA showdown

NAIA Div II Tournament logo

Grant Smith NAIA 2
Indiana Wesleyan freshman Grant Smith goes high to reject a shot by a Morningside (Iowa) player during Saturday’s NAIA Division II semifinal game. Smith and his IWU teammates play IU East in Monday’s semifinals. (Photo courtesy Indiana Wesleyan Athletics)

Two things are virtually certain about tonight’s first semifinal game in the NAIA Men’s Division II Basketball Championships at Sioux City, South Dakota:

1) The game should be an excellent, hotly-contested and hard-fought battle (very likely);
2) The state of Indiana will be represented in Tuesday’s championship contest (guaranteed). 

The 4th-rated Indiana Wesleyan University Wildcats (29-7) and No. 1 IU East (34-2) will go at it at 7 p.m., with the winner advancing to the championship game.

It is the Wildcats third consecutive appearance in the semifinals, and fourth in five years.

The second semifinal also features a team from Indiana. Saint Francis (28-8) defeated Cornerstone (Mich.), 90-79, to reach the Fab 4 and a matchup against the College of Idaho (30-6).

It could have been an all-Hoosier semifinals. The College of Idaho defeated Marian, 75-47, in Saturday’s second quarterfinal game.

IU East, the tournament’s top overall seed, already owns a victory over IWU, an 80-79 win on Nov. 14.

Grant Smith NAIA 1
Former Connersville Spartan Grant Smith takes it to the hoop against Morningside (Iowa) Saturday. Indiana Wesleyan and IU East clash Monday in the semifinals of the NAIA Men’s Division II Basketball Championships. (Photo courtesy Indiana Wesleyan Athletics)

Freshman Grant Smith, who helped lead the Connersville Spartans to a 27-2 record in 2016-17 and was a member of the 2017 Indiana High School All-Star team, has been a significant part of the Wildcats’ success.

In three tournament games, the 6-6 forward is averaging 8.3 points, 4.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists.

Smith — who earned a spot on the Crossroads League All-Freshman team — had 8 points, 5 assists and 2 rebounds in IWU’s 86-68 win over Morningside (Iowa) Saturday.

Against Antelope Valley (Calif.) in the Wildcats first game of the tourney, Smith had 10 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals.

His numbers in an 85-72 victory over Indiana Southeast – 7 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and a pair of steals. 

Junior center Evan Maxwell averages 24 points and 5.3 rebounds to lead head coach Greg Tonagel’s squad.

Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats logoFreshman guard Kyle Mangas, the Crossroads League Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, averages 19 points and 7.6 rebounds.

Former Richmond Red Devil Joel Okafor contributes 7.3 points, 5.3 assists, 5 boards and 1 steal.

Jacob Johnson, a 6-6 senior, averages 11 points and 5.6 caroms, sophomore guard Canaan Coffey averages 7.6 points and Ben Carlson, a 6-6 senior, scores 6.6 points and grabs 5.3 rebounds a game.

IU East also features a former Connersville Spartan — 6-0 guard Charles Peterson. The senior is averaging 5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in the Red Wolves three tournament games.

Six-one sophomore Jalen McKay tops IU East in scoring at 14 points a contest with 5-10 sophomore Bishop Smith averaging 13.7.

IU East Redwolf logo - 2017Luke Huffman and Nate Niehoff, both 6-7 juniors, average 12.3 points each, 6-2 senior Jacob Claypool scores 9.3 points a contest.

According to the IWU Athletics Department, Tonagel said the Wildcats and Red Wolves are totally different teams since they met in November on IU East’s Lingle Court.

“They are No. 1 in the country and haven’t lost since November,” Tonagel said. “They are really quick and they have great guard play. It will be a great battle.”

Tuesday night’s championship game will be broadcast live via ESPN3 and online at WatchESPN. 

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Mt. Vernon ends Spartans season

Mt. Vernon ends Spartans season

Brax Lee Belt CHS-MV Sectional 9 2018 - Doug J
Braxton Revalee, Dalton Lee and Noah Belt (left to right) share a somber moment late in the 4th quarter of Connersville’s 55-49 loss to Mt. Vernon Friday night in Sectional 9 semifinal play. (Photo by Doug Jordan) http://photosbydougj.com/

Sometimes, no matter what the situation is, things don’t feel right. Don’t feel comfortable. Feel off-kilter or whatever the most accurate description is. 

That might have been the feeling fans of the Connersville Spartans were experiencing by halftime of the CHS-Mt. Vernon (Fortville) Class 4A Sectional 9 semifinal game Friday night. 

No matter how anyone felt, the Marauders seemed to be the more comfortable team the majority of the game in Richmond’s Tiernan Center, with MV defeating Connersville, 55-49, in an extremely physical game, ending the Spartans third-consecutive 20-plus-win season. 

CHS finishes 21-5, after going 27-2 last season and 21-6 in the 2015-16 campaign. 

“Our effort was there, we gave a good effort but we didn’t secure some rebounds we should have and we didn’t shoot the ball well,” head coach Kerry Brown said. 

Lee 22 Dalton reverse lu vs MV 2018 Sectional 9 - Doug J
Dalton Lee scores on a reverse layup after a sweet move in the 1st quarter of the Spartans-Mt.Vernon game at Tiernan Center. (Photo by Doug Jordan) http://photosbydougj.com/

“When we had to make a play or make a shot, we didn’t do it, which is so uncharacteristic of us.” 

The first quarter ended with sophomore guard Clay Garrison draining a 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving Connersville a 12-11 lead. 

The Marauders — who passed the ball well all game, went to the boards hard with bashed and flailing bodies sometimes being part of the action, and at times shot the ball with precision-like accuracy — took a 14-12 lead on a 3-pointer by Keith Rupert less than a minute into the second period. 

Mt. Vernon never trailed again. 

Field goal attempts that rimmed out or fell off the rim, missed free throws, rebounds that slipped through players’ hands, loose balls that seemed to always go the opponent’s way and some good-hustle and improbable offensive rebounds by said opponent spelled doom for the Spartans, who kept battling until the final buzzer blared, making the outcome official. 

“It’s a disappointing way for our season to end but I’m proud of all the players and I told them that in the lockerroom,” said Brown.

“It just wasn’t our night tonight and our players are hurting, our seniors are hurting and I feel badly for them. We’re really going to miss our seniors, all of them were very valuable to the team and contributed so much to our success.

“Our underclassmen have some big shoes to fill and I know they’ll keep working hard to do that. We do need to have some more toughness — the toughness these seniors had — or we won’t be a very good team. I know we’ll work hard to develop that same toughness.”

G Sil drives on MV 2018 Sectional 9 - Doug J
Connersville’s Garrett Silcott goes around Mt. Vernon’s Damari Gatewood during Friday’s Class 4A Sectional 9 game at Tiernan Center. (Photo by Doug Jordan) http://photosbydougj.com/

Senior point guard Garrett Silcott closed out his superb career as a Spartan with 17 points and 4 rebounds.

Tough-as-nails senior Braxton Revalee finished with 10 points (two 3-pointers), 3 rebounds and 2 steals, Garrison had 7 points and 2 steals.

Senior Dalton Lee had 5 points — on a sweet spin move resulting in a reverse layup and a 3-pointer, junior Noah Belt recorded 5 points and 5 rebounds, freshman Jonah Graham scored 3 points on a long second-quarter trey and senior Wes Smith scored 2 points and snagged 3 boards.

Damari Gatewood and Peyton Meadors scored 17 points each to lead the Marauders. Keith Rupert scored 17 points.

In Friday’s second game, New Palestine defeated tournament host Richmond, 68-50.

Mt. Vernon and New Palestine will play for the Sectional 9 championship Saturday, with the tip off at 7:30 p.m. 

 

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CHS faces Mt. Vernon in Sectional 9 semifinals

CHS faces Mt. Vernon in Sectional 9 semifinals

chs-spartans-logo

The Connersville Spartans are prepared to face their next obstacle in postseason play. Whether the game will be decided in the regulation 32 minutes is anyone’s guess.

The Spartans (21-4) and Mt. Vernon (Fortville) (13-9) collide in Game 1 of the of Class 4A Sectional 9 semifinals at 6 p.m. tonight at Tiernan Center in Richmond.

Tournament host Richmond (8-16) and New Palestine (14-9) will battle it out in Game 2.

Clay G and Jacob Brown put the D on GC's Brian Long 2018 Sectional 9 - Doug J
Connersville sophomores Clay Garrison (left) and Jacob Brown team up on defense to knock the ball away from Greenfield-Central’s Brian Long during the Spartans 50-41 win Tuesday in Sectional 9 play. (Photo by Doug Jordan) http://photosbydougj.com/

CHS earned a spot in the semis by holding off Greenfield-Central, 50-41, in Tuesday’s first game. The Dragons advanced by beating Pendleton Heights, 71-56.

Connersville and Mt. Vernon have played three straight games that went into overtime.

Head coach Kerry Brown’s squad has been victorious each time, the most recent a 42-37 win at Spartan Bowl on Jan. 26.

The teams played two overtimes in the opening game in Sectional 9 last season, with CHS winning, 59-55.

The Spartans are in good shape physically, although some players likely have some bumps and bruises after Tuesday’s body-banging, hard-fought victory over Greenfield-Central.

The Marauders won’t be the same team they were when the season began in November.

Logan Smith, a 6-2 senior who was leading MV in scoring (14.3 points) and rebounding (5.7), reportedly quit the team.

Smith, who had 8 points and 5 assists against Connersville in January, played in 15 games.

But the Marauders were not, and are not, a one-man team.

Damari Gatewood, a smooth 6-1 senior, averages a team-best 12.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

Six-three junior Peyton Meadors provides inside strength for coach Travis Daugherty’s team, scoring 8.3 points and grabbing 4 rebounds a contest.

The Marauders other top contributors include:

• 6-1 junior Cade Gentry: 8.2 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals;

• 5-11 junior Keith Rupert: 7.6 p, 2 a;

• 6-1 sophomore Brandon Bell: 6.8 p;

• 5-7 senior Tyler Bostic: 4.5 p, 2.3 a, 1.7 st;

• 6-1 junior Jake Morris: 3.4 p.

Wes Smith vs Greenfield-Central 2018 Sectional 9 - Doug J
CHS senior Wes Smith looks for a teammate near the basket against the defensive pressure of two Greenfield-Central players. (Photo by Doug Jordan) http://photosbydougj.com/

In the regular season contest, senior point guard Garrett Silcott made a pair of free throws with less than a minute to play to send the game into overtime.

CHS prevailed by holding MV scoreless in the extra 4-minutes of play.

Silcott had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Big Red. Junior Noah Belt scored 12 points and grabbed 7 rebounds and sophomore Clay Garrison came off the bench to add 5 points and 2 assists.

On Tuesday, Connersville defeated Greenfield-Central by nine, despite the fact that the Cougars cut a 38-21 4th-quarter deficit to 46-41 with under a minute to play, thanks to a 3-point barrage by Will O’Connor.

The 6-6 senior bombed six treys in the final quarter (7-of-12 in all) and finished with a game-high 25 points.

“We wanted to hold him down, limit his scoring, so it was a little disappointing that he was making those shots,” Brown said after the game.

“But we played good defense on some of them and he just made them. I’m glad he didn’t shoot like that the whole game.”

Silcott topped CHS with 16 points and 4 rebounds. Senior Dalton Lee tallied 15 points, making all seven free throws he shot and two 3-pointers, Belt scored 13 points and grabbed 3 boards.

“We know it will be a tough game but we’ll be ready to play,” said Brown. “Winning the sectional again is one of our goals and this is the next step toward achieving that goal.”

Tonight’s winners will play for the Sectional 9 championship at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

A Nation of Spartans fans 2018 Sectional 9, Tiernan Center - Doug J
Spartan Nation: As always, fans of the Connersville Spartans took up a lot of space in Tiernan Center Tuesday to support their favorite basketball team. (Photo by Doug Jordan) http://photosbydougj.com/

If you can’t make it to tonight’s game, you can listen to the action on Kmix 106.9 fm featuring announcers Sam Harvey and Dave Pollard. Kmix 106.9 can be accessed via the iTunes media player. 

Sagarin ratings: CHS: 84.71 overall, 72.71 strength-of-schedule (85th), No. 22 4A, No. 31 all schools. 
Mt. Vernon (Fortville): 79.47 overall, 77.20 strength-of-schedule (35th), No. 39 4A, No. 64 all schools. 

Notes:  The Spartans shot extremely well from the floor and charity stripe against Greenfield-Central, but free throws once again were a vital key to the outcome. CHS made 17-of-20 foul shots while the Cougars shot just two, making both. … Connersville made 14 baskets in 25 shots — 9-of-12 2-point shots and 5-of-13 3-pointers. … The theme for tonight’s game is ‘white out,’ according to — @chscheerblockk — the 2018 CHS Cheerblock‏ group on Twitter.

 

CHS stats vs Greenfield-Central — Silcott 5 5-7 16; Lee 3 7-7 15; Belt 4 4-4 13; Wes Smith 1 0-0 3; Garrison 1 0-0 2; Revalee 0 1-2 1; Brown 0 0-0 0; Sherck 0 0-0 0; Wickes 0 0-0 0; Graham: 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 17-20 50.
3-pointers (5): Lee 2; Silcott 1; Wes Smith 1; Belt 1. Rebounds (15): Silcott 4; Belt 3; Lee 2; Wes Smith 2; Brown 2; Revalee 1; Garrison 1. Assists (7): Belt 2; Garrison 2; Brown 2; Silcott 1. Steals (7): Lee 2; Garrison 2; Silcott 1; Belt 1; Brown 1. Blocks (2): Silcott 1; Brown 1. Shooting: 2-pointers: 9-12. 3-pointers: 5-13. Free throws: 17-20.

Greenfield-Central: 9-16-19-41
Connersville: 17-27-44-50

(Stats via MaxPreps) 

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Smith earns All-Freshman Team honors at IWU

Smith earns All-Freshman Team honors at IWU

IWU Wildcats 2018 Team Photo
The 2017-18 Indiana Wesleyan University Wildcats men’s basketball team. (Photo: IWU Athletics Department)

Former Connersville Spartan star Grant Smith, his 2017 Indiana All-Star teammate Kyle Mangas, three other members of the Indiana Wesleyan University basketball team and their head coach were honored by the Crossroads League on Feb. 28.

Smith, who averages 9.2 points and 3.3 rebounds a game, was named to the Crossroads League All-Freshman team.

The multi-skilled, 6-6 forward also averages 2.5 assists and just under 1 steal for the 26-7 Wildcats, who are rated 4th in NAIA Division II and earned one of the four No. 1 seeds for the upcoming NAIA National Championship Tournament at Sioux City, South Dakota. 

Mangas, who leads Indiana Wesleyan in scoring at 21.8 points a game and has racked up 718 points so far, not only earned All-Freshman Team honors but was named Freshman of the Year, 1st Team All-League — and MVP of the Crossroads League. 

IWU Wildcats Crossroads League Champions - 2018
The Wildcats and the IWU coaching staff celebrate the team’s 2018 Crossroads League championship. (Photo: IWU Athletics Departmnt)

Mangas is the first freshman in conference history to win the MVP award, according to league officials. The former Warsaw High School star also averages 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists. 

Six-ten junior Evan Maxwell earned a spot on the All-Crossroads League 2nd Team. Maxwell, a transfer from Kansas, averages 16.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and leads IWU in 3-point shooting at 47 percent.

Jacob Johnson, a 6-6 senior from Mooresville who missed 17 games after sustaining a partially torn meniscus that required surgery, was named All-League 3rd Team. Johnson averages 11.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists. 

Former Richmond Red Devils star Joel Okafor was selected to the league’s All-Defensive Team.

Along with leading the Wildcats with 42 steals, a 1.3 per game average, the physical, get-at-‘ya defensively 5-11 junior averages 6.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists. 

greg tonagel iu wesleyan coach 2018
Tonagel

Greg Tonagel, now in his 13th season as the Wildcats coach, was named the league’s Coach of the Year. 

Indiana Wesleyan won the Crossroads League regular season title (14-4) and the postseason tournament, giving the Wildcats an automatic berth in the NAIA Tourney. 

The Wildcats won the NAIA Div. II championship in 2014 and 2016.

Other members of the All-League 1st Team are Bryce Lienhoop (Saint Francis), Paul Marandet (Spring Arbor), Gage Ott (Bethel) and Wes Stowers (Marian).

Smith and Mangas were joined on the All-Freshmen Team by Sterling Brown (Marian), Matt Jennings (Grace) and Jevon Knox (Mount Vernon Nazarene).

Indiana Wesleyan will open play in the 27th annual NAIA Championship Tournament at 1 p.m. on March 8 against No. 8 seed Antelope Valley (Calif.) (20-7).

The Wildcats are the top seed in the tournament’s Cramer Bracket

The IU East Red Wolvesthe No.1-ranked team in NAIA Div. II — are the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed and top seed in the Naismith Bracket

The Richmond-based school will play 8th-seeded Voorhees (S.C.) (18-10) at 1 p.m. on March 7. IU East, 31-2 overall, finished 17-0 in the River States Conference and has won 25 straight games.

Charles Peterson IU East 2018
Charles Peterson

Former Connersville Spartan Charles Peterson averages 8.2 points a game for the Red Wolves. The 6-0 senior is shooting 45 percent from 3-point land. 

IU East edged Indiana Wesleyan, 80-79, on Nov. 14 in a game played on the Red Wolves’ Lingle Court. 

Smith had 9 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal for the Wildcats. Mangas scored a team-high 19 points. 

Bishop Smith came off the bench to score 21 points for IU East. Peterson played 8 minutes and did not score, but pulled down 2 rebounds.

The first 30 games of the tournament can be viewed on the NAIA Network.

The championship game will be broadcast on ESPN3 on March 13. 

Union (Ky.) (23-7) is the defending NAIA Div. II champion. 

NAIA Div II Tournament logo

 

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Connersville holds off Greenfield-Central, 50-41

Connersville holds off Greenfield-Central, 50-41

chs-state-championship-bowl-floor-logo-2

When it comes to one-and-done time in Indiana high school basketball — the last few days of February when sectional play begins and coaches and fans start getting that antsy feeling — the bottom line is quite simple. 

Which is exactly the way Connersville head coach Kerry Brown viewed the situation after his hard-nosed Spartans did battle with a determined and similarly gritty Greenfield-Central team Tuesday night. 

Lee Dalty intense FT vs GC 2018Sectional 9 - Doug J
Focused: Hard-playing senior Dalton Lee made all 7 of his free throw attempts and scored 15 points in Connersville’s 50-41 win over Greenfield-Central in 1st-round Sectional 9 play at Richmond. (Photo by Doug Jordan) http://photosbydougj.com/

“It’s survive and advance. All it is now is survive and advance,” Brown said after CHS’ 50-41 win over the Cougars, the opening game of Class 4A Sectional 9 at Richmond’s Tiernan Center — and a game Connersville (21-4) led by as much as 17 points early in the fourth quarter. 

“It’s survive and advance and we were able to hang on and win a tough game and we’re going to be playing Friday night.” 

That Friday semifinal matchup is against Mt. Vernon (Fortville) (13-9), the team that seems to have an agreement with the Spartans mandating that whenever the two schools play, the game has to go into overtime. 

The Big Red beat the Marauders in OT, 42-37, on Jan. 26 at Spartan Bowl, the third straight overtime game between the schools, including a double-overtime masterpiece in last season’s opening game of Sectional 9 at New Castle Fieldhouse (CHS 59, MV 55). 

Against GC Tuesday, the Spartans utilized their usual patient, swing-the-ball-swiftly passing attack and sticky, hounding defense to take a 17-9 lead after one quarter — the last CHS hoop a nice, up-and-under right-hand layin at the buzzer by senior guard Garrett Silcott, who scored a team-high 16 points. 

Brown’s charges limited the Cougars to just four points in the second stanza — until 6-6 senior Will O’Connor popped a long 3-pointer at the buzzer. 

O’Connor’s trey cut Connersville’s advantage to 27-16 at halftime, but the Spartans swarming defense was even more effective in the third quarter — a 3-pointer by sophomore Logan Graddy with 27 seconds on the clock, the only points GC scored in the frame. 

Rev Revalee on court vs GC 2018 Sectional 9 - Doug J
Guard Braxton Revalee’s scrappy, all-out play found the CHS senior scrambling for the ball numerous times on the Tiernan Center court Tuesday night against Greenfield-Central. (Photo by Doug Jordan) http://photosbydougj.com/

However, thanks to O’Connor — who made six trifectas in the final eight minutes and finished with a game-high 25 points — the Cougars were able to chip away and then some, chopping the CHS lead to 46-41 with 54.9 remaining. 

But GC was forced to foul the Spartans, with subsequent free throws in the final 45 seconds by Silcott, junior forward Noah Belt and senior guard Braxton Revalee sealing the win. 

Brown gave O’Connor full credit for stepping up big time in the clutch for Greenfield-Central. “The big key for us was to hold him down, not let him score, and we did that for three quarters,” said the coach. 

“So you have to give us credit for the first three quarters, and give him credit for the fourth quarter. But he shot the ball really well … I’m glad he didn’t shoot like that the whole game.” 

Senior Dalton Lee, who made all seven of his free throw attempts and a pair of 3-pointers, scored 15 points for Connersville, Belt added 13, senior Wes Smith scored 3 on a long first-quarter trey, sophomore guard Clay Garrison scored 2 points and Revalee had 1.

Belt Bucket Layup vs GC 2018 Sectional - Doug
Junior Noah Belt lays in a deuce after a steal in the 1st quarter of Connersville’s victory over Greenfield-Central. Belt scored 13 points and made all 4 free throws he shot in the 4th quarter. (Photo by Doug Jordan) http://photosbydougj.com/ 

Brown always wants the Spartans to play as well as possible, but he knows that isn’t possible.

However, playing as well as needed Friday night and winning the game will be fine with him. 

“I don’t care if we end up playing a bad game Friday as long as we win,” he said.

“I don’t expect us to play poorly and I don’t think we will, but if we do and still get the win, that’s all right. 

“As I said, it’s survive and advance. That’s what matters now.” 

New Palestine defeated Pendleton Heights, 71-56, in Tuesday’s nightcap.

The Dragons (14-9) play tournament host Richmond (8-16) in Friday’s second semifinal game (7:30 p.m.). 

 

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