The Connersville Spartans boy’s basketball team once again will play a game on a weeknight, with the opponent being a longtime foe cruising along with just one loss.
CHS (11-3) travels to New Castle tonight to play the 10-1 Trojans, a potential sectional opponent whose only loss is to Class 2A No. 1 Lapel, 60-58, on Dec. 19. Last week, New Castle dusted Rushville, 63-47.
“They’re a lot like Muncie Central. They’ve got an inside post game and guys who can play around the perimeter,” said CHS head coach Kerry Brown. “They’re a very balanced team and it will be a challenge for us.”
The Spartans overcame a 12-point deficit to beat Muncie Central, 56-49, last Saturday at the Bowl. Sophomore guard Garrett Silcott scored a career-high 19 points, pulled down 4 rebounds and dished 3 assists to lead the winners.
Grant Smith scored 13 points, Tyler Billups added 12, Beau Isaacs finished with 7 points and a game-high 10 rebounds and Noah Belt scored 5 points. Chandler Graves didn’t dent the scoring column but the always-hustling senior grabbed 6 rebounds.
New Castle scores nearly 66 points a game, with 5-10 senior guard Andrew Garrett leading the way, averaging 16.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists.
The Big Red will have to deal with the inside duo of 6-5 junior Titen Bennett and 6-6 freshman Mason Gillis, who combine for 22 points and almost 15 rebounds a game. Bennett averages 12.3 points and 5.2 rebounds, Gillis averages 9.6 points and 9.1 boards.
Junior David Froedge averages 11.0 points and 2.5 assists, sophomore Niah Williamson averages 6.2 points and 5-9 senior Spencer Ogle chips in 5.0 points.
“They can score inside or from the perimeter so we’ve got to be ready for both their inside attack and outside attack,” Brown said. “And they play eight or nine guys, they keep coming at you.”
The Spartans are shooting 45 percent from the floor, 37 percent from 3-point territory. The team attempts 12 1/2 3-pointers a game, but might shoot even more treys against the Trojans.
“Defensively, they play a lot of 1-3-1 (zone),” noted Brown. “This will be our first time playing against that type of defense so we’ll see how we react and handle that.”
Grant Smith and Billups lead the Spartans in made 3-pointers, both knocking down 16 so far. Smith leads the team in scoring, averaging 11.9 points an outing, along with 5.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Billups averages 11.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists.
Isaacs averages 11.3 points and a team-leading 6.7 boards, Silcott averages 9.1 points, a team-high 3.5 assists and 3.2 rebounds, Belt (13 3-pointers) scores 4.0 points a contest and Graves averages 2.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.0 assist.
CHS is shooting 77.1 percent from the free throw line, making 230 of 298 attempts. Brown is pleased with that statistic, as well as another regarding foul shots.
“We’ve made more free throws than our opponents have attempted (182). That’s a pretty telling statistic and a pretty good statistic to have in your favor,” he said about his team’s aggressiveness which leads to the discrepancy.
If the Spartans need any extra motivation for tonight’s battle, Brown said it will come from the fact that New Castle has won 28 of the last 35 games the teams have played. Connersville defeated the Trojans a year ago, 40-37.
“We want to win on their court,” said Brown. “New Castle is a good team and we want to prove that we belong in the same catagory with them. It’s a respect thing and we need to go up there and play well and win.”
Just one area school is in action tonight. The Rushville Lions (4-8) host Oldenburg Academy (9-4).
• Grant Smith: 11.9 p, 5.1 r, 3.1 a, 1.4 st
• Tyler Billups: 11.5 p, 3.0 r, 1.5 a, 1.0 st
• Beau Isaacs: 11.3 p, 6.7 r, 1.0 st
• Garrett Silcott: 9.1 p, 3.5 a, 3.2 r, 1.2 st
• Noah Belt: 4.0 p, 0.9 r
• Chandler Graves: 2.1 p, 3.5 r, 1.0 a, 1.0 st
• Dalton Huffman: 2.1 p, 1.2 r
• Dalton Lee: 2.0 p, 1.0 r
• Wes Smith: 1.2 p, 0.6 r
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