When the situation might have seemed the most bleak for the Connersville Spartans, two players who don’t garner many headlines did their best to help make sure CHS remained unbeaten.
Two minutes into the third quarter, host Richmond led Connersville, 30-27, when senior center Dalton Huffman caught a pass from Garrett Silcott and made a good move inside to score and draw a foul.
Huffman missed the free throw but a minute later, sophomore guard Noah Belt drained the first of three consecutive 3-pointers he made during a 2-minute, 20-second span and the Spartans eventually overcame a 7-point deficit to defeat the Red Devils, 54-49, at Tiernan Center.
CHS improves to 6-0. The loss drops Richmond to 1-5.
“We played good defense in the second half and we stayed focused at the end which was important,” said Connersville head coach Kerry Brown.
“Noah and Beau (Isaacs) both hit big shots in the second half — some big 3s. And we needed them.”
Belt scored 10 points for the Spartans, Huffman had 4 points and 5 rebounds.
Isaacs topped Connersville with 17 points — 10 in the fouth quarter — and 6 rebounds.
Garrett Silcott, slowed by a virus earlier in the week, bounced back with 15 points and 4 rebounds, Grant Smith finished with 5 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists, and junior Dalton Lee came off the bench and knocked down 3 free throws.
“I’m happy that we had three players in double figures. That’s a good thing,” said Brown. “And I’m happy that we were able to get the win even though our leading scorer (Smith, 14.3 ppg) didn’t reach double figures. You have to give Richmond credit for doing a good job knowing where Grant was all night.”
Silcott scored 7 points in the first quarter. After he got inside for a layup, converted an and-one 3-point play and Smith banged a trey, the Big Red led 14-9.
But a layup by freshman Richie Wedlow and a 3-pointer by senior guard Christian Harvey tied things at 14 heading into the second stanza.
Harvey, Wedlow and Trey Griffin helped the hosts forge a 23-16 advantage, but a 3-pointer by Isaacs, a pair of freebies by Lee and a bucket and 2 foul shots by Silcott trimmed the margin to 28-25 at the halfway point.
Isaacs got the third quarter started with a layup before Huffman and Belt gave Brown’s team a huge boost with their combined 11-point scoring burst. An offensive rebound bucket by Smith just before the buzzer tied things at 40 entering the fourth quarter.
“Noah has struggled with his shot a little so far so maybe tonight will help him get going. We need him to shoot well,” noted Brown. “And Dalton (Huffman) has done a good job all year. He’s a smart kid who understands how to play the way to be effective for us on both ends of the floor. He does a lot of good things for us.”
The aggressive Isaacs opened the final quarter with a 3-pointer, and followed it with a basket he drew a foul on and subsequent free throw. While the Spartans appeared to be pulling away from the hosts, Harvey answered with a 3-bomb, 2 free throws, a steal and a layup. Suddenly, Richmond led, 47-46, with just over 4 minutes remaining.
A basket by Silcott and 4 free throws by Isaacs gave CHS a 52-47 lead with 27.7 seconds left. After Wedlow scored for Richmond, Silcott ended the game with a layin just before the buzzer.
Harvey scored 24 points to lead all scorers. Wedlow added 12 for the Red Devils.
“This is a good win for us because they’re a tough matchup for us. They can shoot it and put it on the floor,” Brown said. “Richmond is much better than the record indicates. We’re happy that we played well at the end and got the win.”
Next up for the Spartans is a road game at Greenfield-Central (3-3) on Tuesday.
The game is part of a doubleheader with head coach Michael Thompson’s Lady Spartans (7-6) going against the Lady Cougars (5-6). The girls’ game begins at 6 p.m., the boys’ game is slated to start at 7:30.
Please Patronize Locally-Owned Businesses In Connersville!
Mr. Pizza, Cambridge City