Defending its Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference title is a top priority for the Connersville Spartans basketball team and the coaching staff.
A big step toward that goal can take place tonight when CHS tangles with the East Central Trojans at St. Leon.
Connersville is 14-5 overall, 4-0 in the EIAC. EC is 8-8, 2-1 EIAC. Greensburg and Rushville are 4-2 in the conference, Franklin County is 3-1. Rushville plays at Batesville (1-4) tonight.
“Right now, they’re probably playing the best basketball they’ve played all year. They played well against both of the Columbus teams,” Connersville head coach Kerry Brown said about East Central. “We know we’ll need to play well to win.”
Last Saturday, EC lost to Columbus North, 64-58, in a road game. On Jan. 29, Columbus East beat the Trojans, 54-45, at East Central.
CHS comes into the game off a 57-39 win over Centerville last Saturday at Spartan Bowl, a game in which the team made 12 3-pointers in 22 attempts (55.0 percent).
Tyler Billups made five 3s and scored 15 points to pace Connersville. Beau Isaacs made three 3’s (13 points) while Grant Smith, (11 points), Garrett Silcott (10 points), Chandler Graves (5 points) and Noah Belt (3 points) all made one trey.
The Spartans will have to be at their best defensively against the Trojans, a veteran team with solid talent and lots of experience.
York McCory, a 6-2 guard/forward who can play effectively inside, is one of four seniors CHS will have to contend with.
The other upperclassmen of concern are 6-4 Ben Vogelgesang, guard Alex Campbell and Nolan Moser.
In a 49-43 win over Lawrenceburg, McCory had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Campbell and Vogelgesang scored 8 points each and Campbell passed for 4 assists.
“McCory can score, he rebounds, he can put it on the floor, play inside or out,” said Brown. “He’s one of the top players in the conference and he makes the kids around him better. And Campbell has been shooting it really well. We’ve got to make sure we know where they are all the time.”
The Spartans and their coaches would like to see the team continue to shoot the ball well. CHS is shooting 46 percent overall, 38 percent from 3-point land and scoring 51.5 points a game. Defensively, the Big Red gives up 44.4 points a contest.
Brown said practices have gone well this week, with an emphasis on rebounding the ball better, and that the team is ready to win a crucial conference game.
“It’s a tough place to play but we just need to go down there and play well and take care of business,” he said. “It’s a big conference game that we’re looking forward to.”
The Spartans will be back in action Saturday when they travel to New Palestine to play the Dragons (7:30 p.m.). New Palestine (4-13) plays at Shelbyville (5-12) Friday night.
• Grant Smith: 12.0 p, 4.7 r, 2.9 a, 1.5 st, 1.0 bks
• Tyler Billups: 11.5 p, 3.3 r, 1.5 a, 1.1 st
• Beau Isaacs: 11.1 p, 5.9 r, 0.7 a, 0.8 st
• Garrett Silcott: 8.8 p, 3.5 a, 2.6 r, 1.1 st
• Noah Belt: 3.1 p, 0.6 r
• Chandler Graves: 2.5 p, 3.4 r, 0.7 a, 0.8 st
• Dalton Huffman: 1.7 p, 1.4 r
• Wes Smith: 1.0 p, 0.6 r
• Dalton Lee: 0.7 p, 0.3 r
• Hunter Sullenbarger 0.0 p
• Braxton Revalee 0.0 p
• Gavin Wickes 0.0 p
Area / of interest
Rushville at Batesville (EIAC)
Lawrenceburg at Madison
Delta at New Castle
Jac-Cen-Del at Milan
Knightstown at Greenfield-Central
Mr. Pizza, Cambridge City
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