A magical season came to an end today when the Connersville Spartans were defeated by Southport, 42-35, in the Class 4A regional at Southport Fieldhouse.
Coach Kerry Brown’s Spartans fell behind early, but cut the deficit to 1 point in the 4th quarter before the Cardinals rallied to pull away for the win.
CHS finishes the season with an excellent 21-6 record. Southport, which plays Terre Haute South in the regional final, improved to 21-6.
Beau Isaacs, hampered by a badly sprained ankle since the sectional championship game, led Connersville with 9 points on three 3-pointers, and 5 rebounds, before fouling out with 33 seconds to play.
Grant Smith had 7 points and 3 rebounds, senior Chandler Graves added 6 points — including a half-court 3-pointer at the final buzzer — and 4 boards. Tyler Billups, the Spartans lone other senior, was held to 2 points on a pair of free throws.
Freshman Noah Belt scored 5 points, sophomore Garrett Silcott, badly ill with flu-like symptoms all week, finished with 4 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists and junior Dalton Huffman added 2 points.
Highly-recruited 5-Star point guard Paul Scruggs led the winners with 21 points, 6-10 center Joey Brunk scored just 8.
“I’m very proud of our kids, very proud of our guys,” Connersville head coach Kerry Brown said afterward. “I thought we did a really good job defensively, but we had too many turnovers in a low-possession game like this. But I can’t say enough for our guys. They never gave up.”
CHS, which was hurt badly by turnovers, trailed 13-5 after 1 quarter and 23-15 at halftime. Holding the Cardinals to just 3 points over a 15 minute span, the Spartans got to within 26-25 after 3-pointers by Isaacs and Belt, a layup by Belt off a nice pass from Silcott, and a pair of free throws by Billups.
Billups scored a layup that would have given Connersville the lead in the opening moments of the final quarter, but he was called for traveling, negating the basket.
Getting a 3-pointer and two free throws by Scruggs, a layup by freshman guard Harold Bennett after a steal, 6 free throws and a game-ending punctuation slam by Scruggs, the Cardinals outscored Brown’s squad, 16-5 the rest of the way to get the win.
It didn’t factor in the outcome, but Graves trumped Scruggs’ dunk with a 3-pointer from half-court at the buzzer.
The Spartans made 11-of-30 shots (37 percent) — 4-for-13 2-point attempts (31 percent), 7-of-17 on 3-pointers (41 percent). The team made all 6 of its free throw tries.
“Connersville is a smart, tough team that does not get rattled” said Southport coach Kyle Simpson. “This was survive and advance.”
Please check court traveler sports later for an updates to this story, as well as more comments from Brown and a wrap up of the Spartans’ fine season.
(Photos by Jeff Stanton)
Please Patronize Locally-Owned Business in Connersville!