A whole bunch of basketball fans would call it Hoosier Hysteria at its best. Virtually no one would disagree.
The Connersville Spartans improved to 14-1 Tuesday night after a thrilling, 52-51 overtime win over New Castle before a crowd of more than 3,000 at Spartan Bowl. The Trojans — who could meet CHS again in Class 4A Sectional 9 play — drop to 10-2.
Connersville scored the first 7 points in the extra session, but had to survive four missed free throws in the final 1:11. Forward Beau Isaacs, who scored 16 points and grabbed 4 rebounds for the Spartans, made a pair of freebies with 4.5 seconds left to ice the win. New Castle guard David Froedge nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to establish the final margin.
“This was a great win against a great team,” Connersville head coach Kerry Brown said afterward.
“They (New Castle) played well enough to win it, they definitely could have won it. But you have to give our kids credit. Give them credit for finishing the game strong and beating a really solid team.”
The first half could be called the Luke Bumbalough show. New Castle’s 6-0 sophomore guard scored 17 of his game-high 21 points in the opening 16 minutes, outscoring CHS 12-11 in the second quarter himself. The Trojans led 29-23 at the half and one time led, 27-18.
“He came in as a third concern tonight but he was obviously number one,” Brown said about Bumbalough, who has excellent elavation on his jump shot. “He was shooting over Garrett (Silcott) in the first half, he could have shot it over anybody, but we put Grant (Smith) on him in the second half and he caused a lot of problems for him. We got some key defensive stops when we had to. That was the key to this win.”
Smith topped the Big Red with another double-double — 18 points and 14 rebounds — and also dished 8 assists. The senior wingman barely missed an offensive rebound tip attempt at the end of regulation off a Silcott miss, and an acrobatic, hard-to-describe tip-in attempt off a missed shot by Hunter Sullenbarger with 2:01 remaining and the score tied at 41.
Silcott finished with 13 points and 2 assists, Sullenbarger had 3 points and Noah Belt was limited to 2 points.
Multi-talented 6-6 sophomore Mason Gillis had 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Trojans, Froedge added 11 points.
CHS is back in action Saturday against Batesville at the Bowl in an Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference game. The Bulldogs are 6-5 and host Franklin County Friday in an EIAC contest.
“That’s the most important game this week, even more important than tonight’s game even though this was a big game,” said Brown. “We want to win all our games but we have to win our conference games. This was a great crowd tonight and we hope it’s the same when we play Batesville.”
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