Just about the time it seemed like the Connersville Spartans were going to take one on the chin from a talented Muncie Central team, things changed.
Trailing 27-15 midway through the 2nd quarter and 35-28 in the 3rd, CHS forged 38-37 lead on a pair of free throws by sophomore guard Garrett Silcott, weathered a storm that saw the Bearcats take a 43-38 advantage, and gradually pulled away for a 56-49 victory. The Spartans improved to 11-3, Muncie Central is 9-4.
Silcott led Connersville with a game-high 19 points — making 5 field goals and knocking down 9-of-11 free throws. The sophomore also had 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Grant Smith scored 13 points, Tyler Billups had 12 and 4 rebounds, Beau Isaacs finished with 7 points and a game-high 10 boards and Noah Belt scored 5 points.
Chandler Graves did not score but grabbed 6 rebounds, helping Connersville win the rebounding battle, 27-20. Andre Jones topped Muncie Central with 13 points and 9 rebounds. Six-eight, 285-pound center Donald Allen did not play, missing his second consecutive game.
The Spartans displayed a never-give-up, never-back-off style that has served the team well all season. It was much needed after the Bearcats bolted to a 35-27 early in the 3rd quarter, and again when a 38-37 CHS lead turned into a 43-38 deficit.
Billups nailed a 3-pointer and scored inside to tie it at 43, and Silcott used a nice head fake to get a bank shot to fall with 2:52 remaining to give Connersville the lead for good.
In the final 2 minutes, Billups scored a layup off a full-court pass, Silcott made 5-of-6 free throws and Isaacs added a pair of freebies to close out the scoring for coach Kerry Brown’s team. CHS shot 22-for-26 from the charity stripe (84.6 percent).
The Spartans hit the road Tuesday to battle New Castle. The Trojans (10-1) defeated Rushville, 63-45, Saturday night. New Castle’s only loss is to Lapel, the No. 1 team in Class 2A. The Bulldogs (12-1) beat the Trojans, 68-58, on Dec. 19.
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