If just one of Connersville’s opponents in boys basketball circled this season’s game against CHS on the calendar, the New Castle Trojans likely would be the team.
The Spartans defeated the Trojans twice last year at New Castle Fieldhouse, 75-66 during the regular season, and 63-55 to win the Class 4A Sectional 9 championship. It was the Spartans’ first sectional title in 19 years.
Tonight at Spartan Bowl, the Trojans (10-1) will get a chance to gain a measure of revenge against the 13-1 Spartans in non-conference play. The game begins at 7:30 p.m. with the junior varsity contest tipping off at 6 o’clock.
“That might inspire them and give them some motivation, but they’re an excellent team, they don’t really need extra motivation to play well,” Connersville head coach Kerry Brown said. “It should be a great game and we have to play really well to win it.”
CHS enters the battle with a 5-game winning streak, the latest victory a 65-50 conquest of Muncie Central Saturday night at Muncie Fieldhouse. The Spartans made 25-of-39 shots (64 percent) — 16-of-22 2-pointers and 9-of-17 3-pointers.
New Castle won twice last weekend, turning back Greenfield-Central, 53-37, on Friday night and bashing Rushville, 65-33, on Saturday. The Trojans outscored Rushville, 26-0, in the first quarter to breeze to the win.
Six-six sophomore Mason Gillis had 18 points and 11 rebounds against the Lions (1-11), junior forward Niah Williamson scored 12 points and 6-0 senior guard David Froedge had 8 points and 4 assists.
Gillis, who registered 15 points and 7 rebounds against Greenfield-Central, averages 14.4 points and 10.2 boards to pace New Castle. Froedge averages 13.3 points and 2.3 assists, sophomore guard Luke Bumbalough averages 11.5 points and 4.0 assists, 6-7 senior Titen Bennett averages 10.9 points and 3.5 rebounds and Williamson scores 9.4 points an outing.
“Gillis is a handful. He’s so tough inside and he does so much for them,” said Brown. “But all of their guys can play. We have to play well defensively and we’ll take what they give us offensively and take it from there.”
Wingman Grant Smith averages 16.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists for the Spartans.
Beau Isaacs averages 12.0 points and 5.4 rebounds, Garrett Silcott averages 11.5 points and 4.2 assists, Noah Belt upped his average to 7.4 points per game after scoring 21 against Muncie Central and center Dalton Huffman averages 4.8 points.
The Spartans got an offensive boost from the bench against the Bearcats.
Hunter Sullenbarger dropped a pair of treys for 6 points, Wes Smith scored 4 points, Dalton Lee had 2 points and 2 rebounds and Gavin Wickes had 2 points and 1 board. Braxton Revalee did not score but recorded an assist.
“We’ve played really well lately — we’ve shot the ball well and we’ve played well defensively for the most part,” said Brown. “We’ll need a good effort, that’s for sure. We’ll be ready.”
The Spartans host Batesville (6-5) Saturday night in an Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference game.
Sagarin ratings: Connersville: 81.49 overall, 66.96 strength-of-schedule (166th), No. 39 in 4A, No. 51 all schools.
New Castle: 81.22 overall, 71.06 strength-of-schedule (119th), No. 41 in 4A, No. 56 all schools.
Notes: The Spartans only loss is to Portage, 69-56, on Dec. 27. … New Castle lost to potential Sectional 9 foe Mt. Vernon (Fortville), 65-63, on Dec. 30. … Brown’s record in 8 years at CHS is 109-75; his overall record in 16 years is 191-173. … New Castle is 45-34 during head coach Daniel Cox’s 4 years at the school. … Connersville scores 58.8 points a game and gives up 44.7 … the Trojans average 66.2 points and surrender 52.5 defensively.
If you can’t make it to the Bowl, you can listen to the action on Kmix 106.9 fm featuring announcers Sam Harvey and Dave Pollard. Kmix 106.9 can be accessed via the iTunes media player.
Tonight’s area games
New Castle (10-1) at Connersville (13-1)
Lawrenceburg (9-3, 1-1 EIAC) at Franklin County (4-7, 1-1 EIAC) •
Oldenburg Academy (11-1, 1A No. 5) at Rushville (1-11)
(• = Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference game)
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