After defeating host New Castle for arguably the team’s best win of the season, the Connersville Spartans next opponent has the worst record of any team on the CHS schedule.
But the opponent is longtime nemesis Batesville, and it’s an Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference game. With that, head coach Kerry Brown is confident his team won’t overlook the Bulldogs when the teams go at it Saturday night at Spartan Bowl (7:30 p.m.).
“It’s kind of a trap game for us after our wins against Muncie Central and New Castle, and we’ve got to avoid that,” said Brown. “But we think they’re better than their 1-10 record indicates. I’m not Lou Holtzing it, but they have some young talent and they’ve played well against some pretty good teams.
“It would be easy to have a letdown but good teams don’t do that, they respect all of their opponents and that’s what we’ll do.”
Connersville is 12-3 after overcoming a 12-point 2nd half deficit at New Castle to defeat the Trojans, 75-66, Tuesday night. Junior forward Grant Smith made 11-of-14 shots en route to a career-high 33 points for the Spartans, who shot 25-of-40 from the floor (62.5 percent) and made 18-of-22 free throws (81.8 percent).
Batesville is 1-10 overall, 0-2 in the EIAC. Connersville leads the conference with a 3-0 record. The Bulldogs play at Franklin County (7-5, 2-1 EIAC) tonight in a conference game.
Junior Garrett Burkhart is the Bulldogs’ main weapon offensively. The 6-0 guard scored 38 points in a 78-71 loss to Waldron on Jan. 2, shooting 14-of-26 from the floor. Forward Tristian Lamppert scored 16 points for Batesville. Isaac Barker, Jacob Flaspohler and freshman Robert Raver all are capable of playing well and putting points on the scoreboard for coach Aaron Garrett’s quintet.
While Smith was the main force behind Connersville’s win over New Castle — he also had 4 assists, 4 steals and 3 rebounds — he wasn’t the only Spartan that played well.
Tyler Billups finished with 19 points, 6 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 assists, Beau Isaacs scored 11 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and had 3 steals, Chandler Graves had 5 points, 5 boards and an assist, Garrett Silcott scored 5 points and Dalton Huffman added a basket.
CHS showed plenty of grit, heart and determination in beating New Castle on it’s home court, the same floor Sectional 9 will be played on in March, when the teams could meet again.
Brown said the Spartans must continue to stay focused, keep working hard during practices and strive to become better each time they hit the floor.
“We’ve got to keep improving. We have weaknesses and we have some things to work on and we’ll do that,” he said. “We tell the guys ‘don’t be satisfied, keep working and keep getting better.’
“We need to be grounded and we need to stay positive. We say ‘believe in your teammates and believe in yourselves,’ and we’ve got a group of guys that do that.”
• Grant Smith: 13.3 p, 4.9 r, 3.1 a, 1.6 st
• Tyler Billups: 12.0 p, 3.2 r, 1.6 a, 1.1 st
• Beau Isaacs: 11.3 p, 6.7 r, 0.8 a, 1.0 st
• Garrett Silcott: 8.8 p, 3.3 a, 3.1 r, 1.2 st
• Noah Belt: 3.7 p, 0.7 r
• Chandler Graves: 2.3 p, 3.6 r, 0.9 a, 0.9 st
• Dalton Huffman: 2.1 p, 1.1 r
• Dalton Lee: 2.0 p, 1.0 r
• Wes Smith: 1.2 p, 0.6 r
A full slate of area games is on tap tonight.
Area / games of interest
Batesville (1-10) at Franklin County (7-5) (EIAC)
Cambridge City Lincoln (7-5) at Union City (6-5) (TEC)
Tri (5-7) at Union County (8-5) (TEC)
Madison (6-5) at Greensburg (8-5)
Blue River (5-8) at Hagerstown (10-4)
Monroe Central (6-8) at Centerville (1-8)
Muncie Central (9-4) at Kokomo (7-5)
New Castle (10-2) at Yorktown (1-9)
Shelbyville (5-8) at Richmond (4-11)
Knightstown (6-5) at Shenandoah (12-0, No. 3 Class 2A)
Oldenburg Academy (10-4, No. 16 Class A) at Indianapolis Lutheran (6-6)
Saturday, Jan. 23
Area / games of interest
Batesville at Connersville (12-3) (EIAC)
Morristown (4-7) at Rushville (4-9)
Cowan (5-6) at Cambridge City Lincoln
East Central (5-5) at Harrison (Ohio)
Pendleton Heights (9-5) at Northeastern (10-2, No. 4 Class 2A)
South Decatur (2-12) at Greensburg
Union County at North Decatur (8-4)
Belmont (Ohio) at Richmond
Blackford (0-12) at New Castle
Greenfield-Central (10-4) at Shelbyville
Lawrenceburg (8-5) at Jac-Cen-Del (8-3)
South Dearborn (1-12) at Jennings County
Hagerstown at Delta (9-4)
Indianapolis North Central (11-1, No. 3 Class 4A) at Muncie Central
Hamilton Southeastern (10-5) at Mt. Vernon (Fortville) (11-2)
Shenandoah (No. 3 Class 2A) at Eastern Hancock (3-8)
Milan (5-6) at South Ripley (11-3, No. 17 Class 2A)
Tri Village (Ohio) at Winchester (7-5)
Union (Modoc) (1-9) at Centerville
Union City at Wapahani (8-4)
Mr. Pizza — Cambridge City
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