CHS 23-1 after beating Northeastern in OT

CHS 23-1 after beating Northeastern in OT

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From a 63-29 win over Union County to open the campaign, to a 63-56 overtime victory over Northestern Tuesday night, the regular season is history for the Connersville Spartans.

With just one blip in the nearly 3-month journey that has resulted in CHS hoops history.

The 13th-rated Spartans closed the book on the most successful regular season in school history, improving to 23-1 with the win over the Knights — and the 107th IHSAA boys tournament less than a week away.

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A hectic 3rd quarter at Northeastern included a steal and two-hand slam by Connersville standout Grant Smith, who scored 22 points in the Spartans’ win. (Photo by Doug Jordan) http://photosbydougj.com/

Grant Smith scored 22 points and snagged 13 rebounds to lead Connersville, whose only loss is to Portage.

CHS fell to the Indians, 69-56, on Dec. 27 in the Bob Wettig Tournament in Richmond. It was Connersville’s second game that day.

That morning, the Spartans beat Class A No. 3 Indianapolis Tindley, 71-63.

Tuesday night, CHS made 9-of-11 free throws in the fourth quarter and overtime to hold off Northeastern. The loss snapped a 7-game winning streak by the Knights (18-5), the No. 4 team in Class 2A.

“What a game. This is a good win on the road against a good team,” CHS head coach Kerry Brown said afterward.

The Big Red led 15-14 after the first quarter, but Northeastern got 9 straight points from guard Tyler Smith and two baskets by Freeman Brou to forge a 24-17 lead.

Grant Smith grabbed an offensive rebound and nailed a baseline jumper while falling down to cut the Knights’ lead to 26-25 at halftime.

The Spartans outscored the hosts, 17-10, in a wild third period that ended with Grant Smith making three foul shots after drawing a foul on, and push from, Troy Smith, and the ejection of a Knights’ fan who didn’t agree with the game’s officiating.

Prior to that, Grant Smith turned a steal into a two-hand slam that energized the Spartans and their boisterous fans.

Center Dalton Huffman was big for Connersville in the third stanza, scoring 4 of his 12 points and garnering 5 rebounds. Smith and Beau Isaacs both scored 5 points in the frame and Hunter Sullenbarger added a 3-pointer.

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Connersville’s seniors after winning their 3rd-straight EIAC championship: Gavin Wickes, Grant Smith, Beau Isaacs, Hunter Sullenbarger and Dalton Huffman. (Photo by Doug Jordan) http://photosbydougj.com/

A trey by Sullenbarger put the Spartans up, 48-40, with under 5 minutes to play in regulation, and back-to-back buckets by Garrett Silcott made it 54-48 with 2:02 on the clock.

But Silcott missed a free throw after his second basket, Northeastern eventually tied it at 54, but the Knights dodged a bullet when a shot by Grant Smith fell off the rim as the horn sounded.

Grant Smith opened the extra session with a nice move and basket, and the Spartans got 4 free throws by Huffman in the final 41 seconds and a pair by Noah Belt with 11 ticks remaining to win it.

Tyler Smith, who led Northeastern with 22 points and 7 rebounds, scored the Knights’ only points of the overtime — a pair of free throws.

Isaacs finished with 14 points and 6 rebounds for the Spartans, Silcott scored 7 points, 7 assists and 4 assists, Sullenbarger had 6 points and Belt tallied 2 points and pulled down 4 boards. 

Nate Reynolds scored 16 points for Northeastern, Brou had 8.

chs-state-championship-bowl-floor-logo-2Connersville, the defending champion of Class 4A Sectional 9, plays Mt. Vernon (Fortville) in the tournament’s opening game on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at New Castle Fieldhouse (6 p.m.). The Marauders (13-8 ) host Yorktown Friday to conclude their regular season.

In the only other Connersville-area game Tuesday night, Franklin County (11-11, 3-4 EIAC) blasted host South Dearborn, 53-28, in an Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference game. South Dearborn is 5-17, 1-6 EIAC.

(Statistics are unofficial and will be updated). 

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Photos by Doug Jordan, 265-1230 — http://photosbydougj.com/

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