Virtually every school playing in the Bob Wettig Tournament in Richmond is considered a threat to win the event, including the Connersville Spartans.
CHS (7-1) will help get the 9th-annual tournament rolling Monday morning when it clashes with Lebanon at Tiernan Center (10:30 a.m.). The first game pits Indianapolis Lighthouse against Warren Central (9 a.m.).
“It should be a good game and it will be a tough game,” said Connersville head coach Kerry Brown. “Lebanon has beaten some good teams and they’ve got some kids who can play.”
Lebanon (4-2) had won four straight before getting blown out by Perry Meridian, 63-38, on Dec. 19. Head coach Albert Hendrix was highly-critical of the Tigers after the loss, telling the Lebanon Reporter the team “backed down,” “stunk it up” and “just flat out didn’t come to play.”
When the Tigers play well, it’s usually 6-6, 200-pound junior Trevor Lakes leading the way, with 6-3 junior Will Byrd providing ample help. Lakes is a handful inside and Byrd can take the ball to the basket and make things happen, or hit the 3.
Burly 6-3 senior Luke Terrill, 5-11 junior Braden Large and 6-1 sophomore Kobe Burtron are capable of doing damage for Lebanon.
“Lakes and Byrd are their two best players but they’ve got a good supporting cast,” Brown said. “They’ve got kids who can score in different ways.”
Connersville has the 4th-best defensive rating in Class 4A — 16th-best in the state — giving up just 43.4 points a game. The Spartans average 56.1 points a contest.
CHS has won three consecutive games, the last a 47-40 non-conference win over potential sectional opponent Greenfield-Central. The Spartans overcame foul trouble and played well down the stretch to get the win.
“I was pretty pleased with the win and the way we showed some grit,” said Brown, noting that such victories are confidence building.
Grant Smith, still recovering from a hand injury, averages 13.6 points and 1.7 blocked shots a game to lead CHS. Tyler Billups averages 13 points, Beau Isaacs 9.6, Garrett Silcott 9.2, Noah Belt 3.5, Dalton Huffman 2.9 and Chandler Graves 2.2. Isaacs leads CHS in rebounding (6.9); Silcott leads the team in assists (3.9).
Brown said all the Spartans need to play well to defeat Lebanon and advance in the tournament. “Their size will be a chore for us. We need to keep them off the boards and play physical basketball. We’ll be ready Monday morning.”
Richmond is the defending tournament champion. The Red Devils (2-6) play Richmond-based Seton Catholic at 7 p.m. Monday. The Cardinals are 8-1 and rated 4th in the Associated Press Class A poll.
Bob Wettig Tournament
Monday, Dec. 28
Game 1: Indianapolis Lighthouse (7-2) vs. Warren Central (5-3, No. 19, Class 4A) (9 a.m.)
Game 2: Connersville (7-1) vs. Lebanon (4-2) (10:30 a.m.)
Game 3: Indianapolis Tindley (5-1) vs. Franklin Central (4-1) (12 p.m.)
Game 4: Portage (3-3) vs. Fort Wayne North (8-1, No. 10, Class 4A) (1:30 p.m.)
Game 5: Indianapolis Herron (1-6) vs. Valparaiso (5-1) (4 p.m.)
Game 6: Bedford North Lawrence (2-5) vs. Fort Wayne Dwenger (1-4) (5:30 p.m.)
Game 7: Seton Catholic (8-1, No. 4, Class A) vs. Richmond (2-6) (7 p.m.)
Game 8: Leo (5-0, No. 6, Class 3A) vs. Hamilton Heights (5-3) (8:30 p.m.)
Tuesday, Dec. 29
Game 9: Loser game 1 vs. Loser game 2 (10:30 a.m.)
Game 10: Loser game 3 vs. Loser game 4 (9 a.m.)
Game 11: Loser game 5 vs. Loser game 6 (12 p.m.)
Game 12: Loser game 7 vs. Loser game 8 (1:30 p.m.)
Game 13: Winner game 1 vs. Winner game 2 (4 p.m.)
Game 14: Winner game 3 vs. Winner game 4 (5:30 p.m.)
Game 15: Winner game 5 vs. Winner game 6 (8:30 p.m.)
Game 16: Winner game 7 vs. Winner game 8 (7 p.m.)
Game 17: Loser game 9 vs. Loser game 10 (4 p.m., at Earlham College)
Game 18: Loser game 11 vs. Loser game 12 (5:30 p.m., at Earlham College)
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