The task — on paper — is simple for the Connersville Spartans. Beat Franklin County on the Wildcats’ home court tonight, and defend home court against Lawrenceburg 24 hours later.
If that season-long goal is accomplished, Connersville (20-1, 5-0 Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference) will win it’s third straight EIAC championship and extend it’s regular season winning streak to 14 games. The Spartans have won 18 consecutive conference games.
Both games begin at 7:30 p.m. Tonight’s game is part of the annual ‘Beat Cancer in 4 Quarters’ event, which raises money for cancer research.
Saturday’s contest against Lawrenceburg is the final time Connersville’s seniors will play an official game in Spartan Bowl.
Franklin County is 10-9 overall, 2-2 in EIAC play. Lawrenceburg (15-5, 2-3 EIAC) plays at South Dearborn tonight.
“Our goal was to win all of our conference games and defend our championship again, and that’s what we plan to do. We want to win out,” Spartans’ head coach Kerry Brown said Thursday. “It starts against Franklin County. We have to go down there, take care of business and get the job done.”
The Spartans whipped New Palestine, 61-47, last Saturday to become the first boys team in school history to win 20 regular season games.
CHS gained a spot in the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association poll, improving to 19th, but dropped one spot in the Associated Press poll, to 14th.
The Wildcats, who’ve won 5 of their last 6 games, are a team that lacks height. But head coach Eric Ebrens’ scrappy, hard-nosed squad — just like the Spartans — will give 100-percent effort for 32 minutes or more, if necessary.
Last Saturday, Franklin County defeated Switzerland County, 53-49. The previous night, the Wildcats lost to Greenfield-Central, 45-40, at Brookville.
Dylan Little, a 6-0 junior, had 16 points to lead FC in its victory over Switzerland County, with junior Trevor Murray adding 15 points. Ben Krider, a 5-11 junior, had 13 points and Johnathan Hagerty, a 6-2 senior, finished with 7 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals.
Little also led the Wildcats’ scoring against Greenfield-Central, netting 18 points. Murray scored 9, Tyler Nichols had 7 and Hagerty added 6.
“They’ve been playing well and they’ve been shooting the ball extremely well,” said Brown while displaying a scouting report showing the Wildcats’ recent shooting prowess.
“Little can shoot it well, Murray shoots it well … they’ve got four guys that can score the ball. They’ve got several players who concern me.”
Another concern for the CHS coach is his team’s overall health. Several players — and the coach — have battled a variety of illnesses this week, including strep throat. The situation has improved as the week has progressed, but plenty of Kleenex boxes are present in the coach’s office.
Prior to becoming ill, the Spartans made 22-of-46 shots in defeating New Palestine. Connersville made 15-of-30 2-point shots and 7-of-16 from 3-point land.
The Big Red raced to a 9-0 lead and led by as many as 17 points in the second half. Senior wingman Grant Smith had 25 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists for CHS with senior forward Beau Isaacs adding 17 points (five 3-pointers) and 11 rebounds.
Junior point guard Garrett Silcott totaled 12 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, senior center Dalton Huffman scored 4 points, sophomore Noah Belt had 2 points and senior Wes Smith added 1 point on a foul shot.
Brown knows the Spartans have to be hitting on all cylinders to make it another clean sweep in conference play. He said the team is anxious to play.
“We have to give a great effort and we have to have great execution. And we need to get off to another great start,” the coach said.
“Whether they try to push the ball or slow it down, we have to play good team defense. We have to do a good job guarding their people. It’s going to be an excellent, hard-fought game.”
Stats-wise — Franklin County: Trevor Murray: 10.5 p; Dylan Little: 10.1 p, 4.6 r, 2.7 a; Ben Krider: 9.3 p, 4.3 r; Johnathan Hagerty 8.6 p, 4.3 r; Tyler Nichols: 5 p. The Wildcats average 46.6 points per game and give up 48.3.
Sagarin ratings: CHS: 84.05 overall, 70.47 strength-of-schedule (127th), No. 34 4A, No. 37 all schools.
Franklin County: 62.35 overall, 64.85 strength-of-schedule (189th), No. 68 3A, No. 240 all schools.
Connersville statistics (20-1)
Grant Smith: 17.9 p, 10 r, 4.9 a, 1.7 st, 1.2 bks
Beau Isaacs: 12 p, 5.5 r, 1.7 a, 0.7 st
Garrett Silcott: 12 p, 4.2 a, 3.4 r, 1.2 st
Noah Belt: 7 p, 1.9 r, 1 a, 0.6 st
Dalton Huffman: 5.2 p, 2.4 r, 0.5 st
Hunter Sullenbarger: 2 p, 1 r, 0.5 a
Braxton Revalee: 0.5 p, 0.8 r, 0.4 a
Dalton Lee: 1.1 p, 1.1 r, 0.5 a, 0.3 st (19 gms)
Wes Smith: 0.9 p, 0.8 r, 0.3 a (15 gms)
Gavin Wickes: 1.4 p, 0.3 r (13 gms)
The Spartans average 59.0 points a game and give up 45.9 defensively.
If you can’t make it to tonight’s game, 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.
Notes: The 1972 Connersville Spartans state championship picture scrapbook will be available for purchase when CHS hosts Lawrenceburg Saturday, in the team’s final home game at Spartan Bowl.
The souvenir can be obtained at the main ticket window in the Bowl for $5. All proceeds go to the CHS Athletic Department.
(All games begin at 7:30 p.m. unless noted)
Connersville (20-1, 5-0, 4A No. 14) at Franklin County (10-9, 2-2) •
Lawrenceburg (15-5, 2-3) at South Dearborn (5-14, 1-4 EIAC) •
Rushville (2-18) at Greenfield-Central (10-10)
Batesville (11-8) at Jennings County (13-7)
Centerville (10-9, 2-3 TEC) at Tri (6-13, 0-5 TEC) ‡
Lafayette Jeff (11-9) at Richmond (2-10) (8 p.m.)
Shenandoah (15-4, 2A No. 12) at Hagerstown (14-6, 2A No. 16) (8 p.m.)
Seton Catholic (Richmond) (12-10) at Cambridge City Lincoln (13-5)
Winchester (10-9, 4-2 TEC) at Northeastern (17-4, 5-0 TEC, 2A No. 5) ‡
Union City (3-15, 1-4 TEC) at Union County (9-12, 2-4 TEC) (8 p.m.) ‡
Delta (13-7) at Shelbyville (13-6)
Guerin Catholic (13-8) at Pendleton Heights (16-5)
Mt. Vernon (Fortville) (11-8) at New Palestine (5-14)
New Castle (14-5) at Westfield (6-13)
McCutcheon (18-2, 4A No. 7) at Muncie Central (7-12)
(• = Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference)
(‡ = Tri-Eastern Conference)
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