In a matter of hours, the Connersville Spartans boy’s basketball team can once again lay claim to being champions of the Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference.
CHS has two chances to make it back-to-back titles, beginning tonight when the Franklin County Wildcats storm into town for a 7:30 p.m. contest. Saturday night, Connersville travels to Lawrenceburg to tussle with the Tigers in the team’s final conference game of the season.
Tonight’s contest is the annual ‘Beat Cancer in 4 Quarters’ game. Funds raised by students from both schools will benefit the American Cancer Society Relay for Life events in both counties. The school that raises the most money wins a trophy.
Coach Kerry Brown’s Spartans are 16-5 overall, 5-0 in EIAC games. Franklin County, which lost at home Tuesday to Milan, 56-47, is 11-8, 3-1 in the conference. Lawrenceburg (12-8, 1-4) hosts South Dearborn (1-18, 0-5) tonight.
The CHS players hope the goals in Spartan Bowl will be more friendly than those in New Palestine’s gym. In a grind-it-out, 34-33 win over the Dragons last Saturday, the ball went through the hoop for the Big Red just 11 times in 28 shots (39.2 percent), 6-of-14 from 3-point land (42.8 percent).
Beau Isaacs and Tyler Billups continued to shoot it well from deep, with Isaacs dropping 4-of-5 treys against New Palestine and Billups knocking down 2-of-3. The pair led Connersville with 14 and 6 points, respectively, with Grant Smith also scoring 6 points.
Isaacs had 5 rebounds and Chandler Graves snatched 3 to lead CHS, Garrett Silcott — whose free throw at the 1:28 mark established the final score — dished a game-high 6 assists.
“We knew it was going to be a challenge there and it was just a defensive battle. Both teams really challenged each other defensively all night,” said Brown. “We scored on our last possession and New Palestine didn’t. That was the difference in a really good defensive battle.”
It’s no secret that the Spartans’ defense will key on Wildcats’ guard Tyler Miller, who averages 21.3 points a game, pulls down 5.4 rebounds and passes for 3.7 assists.
However, Brown said no one on the FC roster should be overlooked. “Miller obviously is their key but they’ve got some kids who can knock down shots and do a lot of things,” the coach said. “They return four starters from last year so they’ve got a lot of experience. We’ll have to play well.”
Miller, who went over the 1,000 career points threshold during a 68-59 win over Switzerland County on Feb. 13, relies on support primarily from fellow senior Kannon Sams (7.2 points, 4.3 rebounds), sophomore Dylan Little (5.9 points, 3.2 rebounds) and senior Layton Bowling (4.8 points, 3.0 rebounds).
Sophomore Ben Krider averages 4.8 points for 1st-year coach Eric Ebren’s Wildcats, with seniors Cole McCreary, Brandon Ball and Sam Krider, and junior Johnathan Hagerty all averaging nearly 3.0 points an outing.
But the player with the biggest bullseye on the back of his jersey will be Miller, who shoots 53 percent from the floor, but just 26 percent on 3-pointers.
“He’s strong, he’s quick, he’s a really good shooter who can hit the jumper from almost anywhere and he gets to the rim,” Brown said about the 5-11 playmaker. “But he also makes all the guys around him better. That’s what makes him so tough.”
The players and coaches are anxious for another conference crown. The key to the title, according to Brown, is a solid, all-out effort on the defensive end.
“We have to play better defensively if we want to win the conference championship,” he said. “Our goal is to win Friday and Saturday and we’ll have to play strong defense and rebound the basketball to do that.”
• Grant Smith: 11.6 p, 4.6 r, 2.8 a, 1.4 st, 1.0 bks
• Tyler Billups: 11.5 p, 3.1 r, 1.4 a, 1.1 st
• Beau Isaacs: 11.1 p, 6.2 r, 0.9 a, 0.9 st
• Garrett Silcott: 8.5 p, 3.7 a, 2.6 r, 1.1 st
• Chandler Graves: 2.5 p, 3.2 r, 0.9 a, 0.8 st
• Noah Belt: 2.9 p, 0.6 r
• Dalton Huffman: 1.6 p, 1.2 r
• Wes Smith: 0.9 p, 0.5 r
• Dalton Lee: 0.5 p, 0.3 r
• Hunter Sullenbarger 0.0 p
• Braxton Revalee 0.0 p
• Gavin Wickes 0.0 p
(Photos by Jeff Gabbard Photography)
Area / of interest
Franklin County at Connersville (EIAC)
South Dearborn at Lawrenceburg (EIAC)
Greenfield-Central at Rushville
Jennings County at Batesville
Cambridge City Lincoln vs. Seton Catholic (No. 2 Class A) (8 p.m., Earlham College)
Northeastern (No. 3 Class 2A) at Winchester (TEC)
Tri at Centerville (TEC)
Union County at Union City (TEC)
Westfield at New Castle
Hagerstown at Shenandoah (No. 6 Class 2A)
New Palestine at Mt. Vernon (Fortville)
Pendleton Heights at Guerin Catholic
Shelbyville at Delta
Columbus North at Bloomington North
Area / of interest
Connersville at Lawrenceburg (EIAC)
East Central at Franklin County (EIAC)
Batesville at Beech Grove (2:30 p.m.)
Switzerland County at South Dearborn
Cambridge City Lincoln at Oldenburg Academy
Hagerstown at Knightstown
Avon at Greenfield-Central
Shelbyville at Waldron
Whiteland at New Palestine
If you viewed this page, Please Patronize Locally-Owned Businesses — Support Connersville!