When the Connersville Spartans and Richmond Red Devils last clashed on the hardwood — last March in the championship game of the New Castle sectional, Richmond won, 46-33.
The CHS players and coaching staff would like nothing better than ending the lengthy drought tonight when the teams collide at Spartan Bowl (7:30 p.m.).
“It’s a big game. We’ll need to play well and be ready for them,” said Connersville head coach Kerry Brown. “They like to push it up the court and press you defensively so we’ve got to control the tempo, protect the ball and not turn it over.”
The Spartans would love to have a repeat performance of the hot-shooting and balanced attack that propeled them to a 73-35 road win over Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference foe South Dearborn on Wednesday.
CHS shot over 60-percent from the floor, including a third quarter that saw the team shoot a near perfect 9-of-10. Brown’s crew continued it’s excellent free throw shooting with a 16-of-17 effort.
Senior Tyler Billups tallied a season-high 24 points to lead the Spartans, freshman Noah Belt scored 13 and junior Grant Smith had 11 before leaving the game late after falling hard to the court and suffering a hand injury. Brown said Smith will play against Richmond.
“He wants to play and he’s going to play,” Brown said about the 6-4 forward who leads Connersville in scoring (15.3 points a game). “If he’s not at 100 percent, some other guys are going to have to step up and perform, but he’s going to play.”
Richmond fell to 2-4 Friday when it lost a home game to Indianapolis Tech, 63-49. Brown notes that the Red Devils’ record is deceptive since the team’s strength of schedule is the 18th-best in Indiana.
“They’ve got a new coach (Rick Wedlow) and some new players and they’re starting to figure it out,” said Brown. “They’ve got talent and they’ll play 10 kids. It will be a totally different team than South Dearborn.”
Richmond’s key players are 6-3 senior Adrion Gibson (9 points-a-game), 5-11 sophomore Christian Harvey (5.5 points), 5-11 junior Trey Griffin (6.2), 6-6 junior Colin Carter (5.2), 6-3 senior Daric Clemens (6.8), 6-1 senior Tyrone Washington (3.0) and 5-11 senior Brendan Vanlandingham (2.9).
Connersville’s balanced scoring attack finds Billups averaging 12.5 points, Garrett Silcott 9.5, Beau Isaacs 9.1, Noah Belt 4.6 and Chandler Graves 2.7.
The Connersville-Richmond basketball game always is highly-anticipated by the players, coaches and fans. After seven years without a victory in the series, the Spartans are eager to end that streak.
“We talked to them about not winning in a while,” Brown said. “It’s not really a rivalry if you’re not winning so we need to do something about that. We need to play hard, get to the free throw line and get some points and get a win and snap this streak.”
If you can’t make it to tonight’s game, you can listen to the action on Kmix 106.9 — Kmix1069fm.com — with announcers Sam Harvey and Dave Pollard.
Area / of interest
Richmond at Connersville
Greensburg at Franklin County (EIAC)
Pendleton Heights at Rushville
Batesville at East Central
Seton Catholic (Richmond) (No. 6, Class 1A) at Northeastern (No. 1, Class 2A)
Centerville at National Trail (Ohio)
Eastern Hancock at Cambridge City Lincoln
Shelbyville at Franklin
New Castle at Lapel
Monroe Central at Hagerstown
Union City at Tri (TEC)
Milan at Morristown
Muncie Central at Delta
Mt. Vernon (Fortville) at Mississinewa
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