The Connersville Spartans have had a 10-day layoff since playing the last of 4 games in the annual Bob Wettig Tournament played in Richmond.
Calling the tournament field as strong as he’s seen in his seven years as the Connersville mentor, Brown said he’s somewhat satisfied with the way the Spartans performed to earn a 6th place finish in the 16-team field.
However, the coach realizes the team needs to continue to improve in all areas of the game, and a test to see how much CHS (9-3) has progressed since Dec. 30 will take place Saturday night in Spartan Bowl.
The Greensburg Pirates will provide the opposition in a crucial Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference game that begins at 7:30 p.m. Connersville is idle tonight; Greensburg (7-3) plays at Shelbyville (4-6).
“It’s a big game. They’re all big games but this is probably going to be for the conference championship,” Brown said about the long-awaited matchup. “We’re both 2-0 in the conference so it’s a big game for both of us.”
A veteran-laden team, the Pirates had won 5 straight prior to losing at home to Indian Creek, 60-55, on Jan. 2. Along with talent, coach Stacy Meyer’s club also has size at each position on the floor.
“We’re pretty similar teams,” noted Brown. “They’re kind of like us, except they have the big guy in the middle.”
The big guy is 6-5, 220-pound senior Chandler Deaton. However, Deaton has seen his minutes reduced recently with 6-2 freshman Mason McLeod getting more playing time.
Four other seniors lead the way for the Pirates, including 6-3 forward Peyton Buening, a decent rebounder who isn’t shy about launching a 3-point shot, 6-2 forward Spencer Burkert, who had 17 rebounds and 12 points against Indian Creek, and pesky, effective guards Drew Foster and Tommy Carey.
“Greensburg is a really solid team. They have four starters back from last year as well as their 6th man,” said Brown. “They’ve got four guys that can score and all of them play well and can do multiple things.”
Brown said the Spartans have bounced back well after playing 4 games in 3 days during the Wettig tournament, and a subsequent 3-day holiday layoff that resulted in some “sluggish” practices early in the week.
Junior Beau Isaacs scored 64 points during the Wettig and was named to the All-Tournament team. The hard-working front court performer is averaging 11.8 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds a game. Junior Grant Smith leads CHS in scoring at 12.3 points a contest while also grabbing 5.5 rebounds an outing.
Senior Tyler Billups averages 11.3 points and 3 rebounds, sophomore Garrett Silcott averages 8.8 points, 3.8 assists and 3.3 rebounds, freshman Noah Belt comes off the bench to score 3.6 points a game, senior Chandler Graves averages 2.1 points and 3.3 boards, junior Dalton Huffman averages 2.0 points and sophomore Wes Smith chips in 1.3.
“We’re looking forward to the game. It should be a good one and the atmosphere in the Bowl should be excellent,” Brown said. “We need to play hard and do the things we need to do to be successful.”
Notes: Last season, the Spartans defeated the Pirates, 54-41, at Greensburg. The Pirates won back-to-back Class 3A state championships (2013 and 2014).
If you can’t make it to Saturday’s game, you can listen to the action on Kmix 106.9 — http://kmix1069.com/ — with announcers Sam Harvey and Dave Pollard.
Several area teams are in action tonight. The schedule includes:
Area / games of interest
Friday, Jan. 8
Greensburg (7-3) at Shelbyville (4-6)
Rushville (3-6) at East Central (4-3) (EIAC)
Columbus East (3-5) at Franklin County (6-2)
Muncie Central (7-2) at Lafayette Jeff (7-2)
Delta (4-3) at New Palestine (2-7)
Mt. Vernon (Fortville) (8-2) at Greenfield-Central (8-2)
Saturday, Jan. 9
Greensburg (7-3) at Connersville (9-3)
Franklin County (6-2) at Union County (6-4)
Seton Catholic (Richmond) (13-2, No. 4, Class A) vs Wes-Del (5-4) (12 p.m., at Hagerstown)
Shelbyville (4-6) vs. Columbus East (3-5) (5:45 p.m., at Bankers Life Fieldhouse)
Noblesville (5-5) at Muncie Central (7-2)
Portage (4-6) vs. Greenfield-Central (8-2) (4:30 p.m., at Knightstown)
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