The Connersville Spartans have defeated Richmond the last two times the teams met on the basketball court.
The Spartans (24-1) will try to make it three straight wins over their longtime rivals when they clash in Class 4A Sectional 9 semifinal action Friday evening at New Castle Fieldhouse (6 p.m.).
In the second semifinal, New Castle (16-6) plays Greenfield-Central (12-11).
Head coach Kerry Brown’s 14th-rated Spartans beat Richmond, 54-49, on Dec. 17 at Tiernan Center, with forward Beau Isaacs leading the way with 17 points and 6 rebounds.
However, the 6-4 senior reinjured his left knee Tuesday during a battle for a loose ball in the final 11 seconds of Connersville’s 59-55, double-overtime win over Mt. Vernon.
Isaacs is receiving treatment and therapy, but his status is a game-time decision, according to Brown.
“We won’t know until Friday night. He’s responding to treatment but we won’t know if he’ll be ready to go until game time,” Brown said Thursday afternoon. “But we’re optimitic with the way things are going so far.”
As always, the Spartans and the coaching staff are counting on, and hopeful that every player who hits the court will perform as well as possible.
An encore performance by Grant Smith from the Big Red’s victory over Mt. Vernon would be much welcomed, too.
The multi-talented 6-6 senior and candidate for the Indiana All-Star team was all over the court, hustling his way to a game-high 31 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocked shots and 4 assists. Smith averages 18.4 points and 10.1 rebounds a game to lead the Spartans.
Silcott added 15 points and 9 rebounds for CHS, Isaacs scored 5 points, Noah Belt had 4 points and 5 rebounds, Hunter Sullenbarger scored 3 points and Braxton Revalee had 1 point.
The Spartans will play a Richmond team that’s hungry for a win — and out to prove that its 2-22 record, marred by six forfeits due to a clerical error that resulted in a player becoming ineligible — is deceiving.
“Richmond is so much better than the record indicates,” assured Brown. “They’ve competed against everyone they’ve played — and they’ve played some very good teams. They’ve lost close game after close game … we know we’re in for a real battle.”
During the regular season contest, Richmond’s defense keyed on Smith, who took just five shots and scored a season-low 5 points. But the wingman pulled down 7 rebounds and passed for 5 assists.
Connersville trailed 30-27 early in the third quarter before sophomore guard Noah Belt made three consecutive 3-pointers to ignite a rally.
The Red Devils still led 47-46 with 4 minutes to play, but CHS used a 6-0 run to take a 52-47 lead with 27.7 seconds left and put the game on ice.
Silcott scored 15 points, Belt finished with 10 points, Dalton Huffman had 4 points and 5 rebounds and junior Dalton Lee tallied 3 points.
High-scoring guard Christian Harvey scored 24 points to lead Richmond, freshman guard Richie Wedlow added 12.
A 5-11 junior, Harvey averages 24.2 points, 4.8 assists and 3.9 assists to lead head coach Rick Wedlow’s team.
Senior Trey Griffin averages 11.2 points, Richie Wedlow, the coach’s son, averages 7.8 points, 6-3 senior A.J. Ferguson contributes 5.3 points and 7.7 rebounds, Kei’Shaun Clemons, a 6-5 junior, averages 3.2 points and 5.5 rebounds and senior Daniel Hill nabs 3 rebounds and scores 1.8 points in limited minutes that have increased the last several games.
Brown said Harvey causes extreme problems because he’s as willing to give the ball to his teammates as he is to pop a jump shot. Staying in front of Harvey and knowing where he is all the time on the court is a must, the coach said.
“And we have to get up on Griffin and keep him from shooting because he’s really been shooting it well lately,” said Brown. “We have to contain Harvey, Griffin and Wedlow as well as possible and play as well as we can defensively against all of their guys.”
Sagarin ratings: CHS: 83.46 overall, 70.60 strength-of-schedule (128th), No. 34 4A, No. 39 all schools.
Richmond: 72.64 overall, 75.79 strength-of-schedule (61st), No. 75 4A, No. 128 all schools.
Notes: Connersville has won all six games that have needed overtime(s) to decide, a state record. … Prior to winning the last two games between the schools, CHS lost 7 straight contests against Richmond and 9-of-11 during an 8-year period. … The Spartans, winners of 16 straight games, are ranked 17th in the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) one-class rating system. … In 8 years at Connersville, Brown’s record is 120-75. His overall record in 16 years as a head coach is 202-173.
If you can’t make it to the 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.
A live webstream of the game can be seen on the RadioTroy website.
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