The Connersville Spartans boys varsity basketball team is forever in the record books of a storied hoops program.
Head coach Kerry Brown’s 13th-rated (Associated Press) Spartans became the first team in the school’s history to win 20 regular season games when they defeated New Palestine, 61-47, Saturday night at the Bowl.
CHS — rated 20th in the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association poll — is 20-1 overall and 5-0 in the Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference. The Spartans have won 12 straight regular season games and 18 consecutive EIAC contests.
Connersville bolted to a 9-0 lead and held a 15-7 advantage after one quarter. The Big Red led 35-21 at halftime, primarily on the strength of four 3-pointers by Beau Isaacs.
Isaacs and fellow senior Grant Smith led CHS in scoring, with Smith tallying a game-high 25 points and Isaacs finishing with 17.
Smith, who also had 12 rebounds and 6 assists, scored 7 points in the third quarter, and added 8 in the final period. Isaacs drilled five 3-pointers in all, missing just two attempts. The forward also pulled down 11 rebounds.
“We got off to a great start. We found some guys inside and Beau made some big outside shots. Our start and good shooting were the keys to this win,” Brown said. “Every time they made a run, we made one. We countered them every time.”
Garrett Silcott finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, Dalton Huffman scored 4 points, Noah Belt had 2 points and a pair of steals and Wes Smith had 1 point and 1 carom.
CHS led by as many as 17 points in the second half — 40-23 early in the third stanza and 61-44 in the waning moments before the Dragons scored the games final 3 points.
Brown said he expects the Spartans to play well in the late stages of games. “We’ve got good guard play and we play with good poise and composure. The guys don’t panic,” he said.
Jalen Qualkinbush scored 14 points to pace New Palestine (4-15), Gavin Hausz added 13 and freshman Maximus Gizzi had 12.
Ironically, Brown said he wasn’t aware that his team was preparing to set a record for being the first to win 20 games during the regular season.
“It’s an excellent accomplishment … I didn’t realize it until after the game,” he said. “The coaching staff and players are proud of what we’ve done.”
But there’s more in store for Connersville — starting with a doubleheader weekend against two EIAC opponents.
On Friday, CHS travels to Brookville to take on Franklin County (10-9, 2-2 EIAC). The game is part of the annual ‘Beat Cancer in 4 Quarters’ event, which raises money for cancer research.
On Saturday, Lawrenceburg (15-5, 2-3 EIAC) will visit Spartan Bowl — the final home game of the season for CHS.
If Connersville wins both games, it will be the school’s third consecutive EIAC championship.
If CHS stumbles once, and Greensburg (12-6, 5-1 EIAC) wins it’s final conference game against East Central (12-6, 2-3 EIAC) on Feb. 24, the teams would be tied.
Two losses by the Spartans and a Pirates’ win over EC would give Greensburg the conference crown. Brown — as always — is taking it one game at a time.
“I think you can throw out the records when we play Franklin County. It’s a good rivalry and it will be a good, hard-fought game and we have to be ready to play,” he said. “They’re a guard-oriented team and they have some talented kids. It should be a really good matchup.”
Notes: The 1972 Connersville Spartans state championship picture scrapbook will be available for purchase when CHS hosts Lawrenceburg on Saturday, Feb. 18, in the team’s final home game at Spartan Bowl. The souvenir can be obtained at the main ticket window in the Bowl at a cost of $5. All proceeds go to the CHS Athletic Department.
Connersville area / games of interest
Connersville 61, New Palestine 47
Franklin County 53, Switzerland County 49
Lawrenceburg 58, Rising Sun 44
Batesville 50, East Central 40
Logansport 59, Richmond 50
Lapel 66, Hagerstown 57
Northeastern 83, Tri 43
Centerville 58, National Trail (Ohio) 49
Mt. Vernon (Fortville) 60, Lawrence Central 51
Shelbyville 68, Whiteland 62
Milan 63, South Dearborn 57 (OT)
North Decatur 72, Knightstown 45
Oldenburg Academy 71, Indianapolis Scecina 57
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