The Connersville Spartans boys varsity basketball team soared to the top spot in the school’s record book last season, winning 27 times in 29 games, the last loss coming against eventual Class 4A state champion Ben Davis in the championship game of the Southport Regional.
However, five key players from that team —including three starters — received their diplomas in June, leaving some significant gaps to be filled.
The returning players and new additions are working extremely hard to keep the Spartans’ winning tradition on track, according to head coach Kerry Brown, who said the team is anxious to get the 2017-18 campaign started on Wednesday night when the Union County Patriots visit Spartan Bowl for the annual Thanksgiving Eve season opener (7:30 p.m.).
CHS, rated 16th in the Associated Press preseason poll, will be back in action Saturday when it hosts Class 3A Delta at the Bowl (7:30 p.m.).
“We had a lot of experience returning in the past to build around — we knew what we had,” Brown said Monday afternoon. “Now, we’ve got a lot of unknowns. We’re still a work in progress but the kids are working hard every day.”
Senior Garrett Silcott once again will be the motor that drives the Spartans. The talented 6-1 point guard is an excellent passer who can get to the basket and finish or drill the jump shot.
Playing in every game last season, Silcott averaged 11.3 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal.
Silcott will be joined in the backcourt by 6-0 junior Noah Belt, a serious 3-point threat who also can hit the perimeter shot and who rebounds and passes well. Belt averaged 6.3 points and 2.5 rebounds last season.
Also slated to start for CHS, according to Brown, are seniors Dalton Lee, Wes Smith and Braxton Revalee.
Each came off the bench last season and showed they can play well and contribute positive things to the team. Smith is the tallest of the three at 6-2, Lee is 6-0 and Revalee is 5-9.
Other members of the varsity squad include: 6-4 senior Drew Sherck, 5-6 senior Dalton Ailes, 6-0 senior Tyler Combs, 5-11 junior Dylan Logan, 5-9 sophomore Clay Garrison, 6-6 sophomore Jacob Brown, 5-9 sophomore Garrett Wickes and 6-2 sophomore Ethan Smith.
“We’re a small team, smaller than in the past without much height overall but we’re hopefully going to be a quicker team,” said Brown. “With the players we lost, Garrett and Noah know they have to step up their games and all of our starters know they have to play well. The bench players know they have to play well, too.
“Right now, we’re not sure who will contribute or how much they will contribute but everyone is working hard in practice and we had a really good summer.”
Expect the Big Red to play some man-to-man defense, and utilize the familiar motion offense, with some “tweaking” here and there, depending on the situation and personnel on the court.
The coaching staff and players would like nothing better than extending the school’s string of Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference championships to four, and to win it’s third consecutive sectional title. They realize the task will not be easy.
“I want us to get better with every practice and every game we play,” said Brown. “We want to keep improving every day and we hope to compete for the conference and sectional championships again.
“We’ve got a really good group of hard-working kids that I really like. We’re ready to start the season.”
Notes: According to CHS students and members of the ‘2017 CHS Cheerblock’ on Twitter, Wednesday’s game is ‘white-out night,’ with those student-fans donning all-white attire …
The Spartans will play four home games before hitting the road on Dec. 9 to battle Pendleton Heights …
CHS will play 12 games in the friendly and rowdy confines of Spartan Bowl …
Brown has been Connersville’s head coach for 9 years. The Spartans are 123-76 during that time. Overall, Brown’s record in 17 years is 205-174 …
The five players CHS lost to graduation are 6-6 forward/guard Grant Smith, who now plays for NAIA Division II power Indiana Wesleyan University, 6-4 forward Beau Isaacs, 6-3 center Dalton Huffman, 6-3 forward Hunter Sullenbarger and 6-3 forward Gavin Wickes …
Connersville won seven consecutive overtime games last season, establishing a state record …
Three games involving area school’s will be played tonight. Franklin County hosts Milan, Greensburg plays at North Decatur and Rising Sun plays at South Dearborn. Those games tip-off at 7:30 p.m.
If you can’t make it to the CHS-Union County 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.
Connersville Spartans 2017-18 varsity schedule
(All games begin at 7:30 p.m. unless noted)
Nov. 22 Union County (2A)
Nov. 25 Delta (3A)
Dec. 1 Rushville (3A) •
Dec. 2 Shelbyville (4A)
Dec. 9 at Pendleton Heights (4A)
Dec. 15 at South Dearborn (3A) •
Dec. 16 Richmond (4A)
Dec. 19 Greenfield-Central (4A)
Dec. 27-Dec. 29 Bob Wettig Tournament (Richmond)
Jan. 5 Greensburg (3A) •
Jan. 6 at New Castle (3A)
Jan. 13 Muncie Central (4A)
Jan. 20 at Batesville (3A) •
Jan. 26 Mt. Vernon (Fortville) (4A)
Jan. 27 Indianapolis Manual (3A)
Feb. 3 at Centerville (2A) (1:30 p.m.)
Feb. 8 at East Central (4A) •
Feb. 10 at New Palestine (4A)
Feb. 16 Franklin County (3A) •
Feb. 17 at Lawrenceburg (3A) •
Feb. 20 Northeastern (2A)
(• = Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference game)
Bob Wettig Tournament schedule (first round games)
Dec. 27 (1) Shelbyville vs Indianapolis Lighthouse South (10 a.m.)
Dec. 27 (2) Indianapolis Cathedral vs Belmont (Ohio) (11:30 a.m.)
Dec. 27 (3) South Bend Adams vs Indianapolis Attucks (1 p.m.)
Dec. 27 (4) Connersville vs Northwest HomeSchool (2:30 p.m.)
Dec. 27 (5) Franklin Central vs Park Tudor (4 p.m.)
Dec. 27 (6) Indianapolis Tindley vs Greensburg (5:30 p.m.)
Dec. 27 (7) Indianapolis HomeSchool vs Richmond (7 p.m.)
Dec. 28 (8) Seton Catholic (Richmond) vs Portage (8:30 p.m.)
Wednesday and Saturday games
Connersville area / games of interest
Union County at Connersville
Rushville at Shelbyville
Delta at Connersville
Greensburg at South Dearborn •
Jac-Cen-Del at Batesville
(• = Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference game)
2017-18 Connersville Spartans varsity roster
No. 5 Dalton Ailes Sr. G
No. 10 Clay Garrison So. G
No. 12 Garrett Silcott Sr. G
No. 14 Braxton Revalee Sr. G
No. 20 Garrett Wickes So. G
No. 22 Dalton Lee Sr. F
No. 24 Tyler Combs Sr. F
No. 30 Noah Belt Jr. G
No. 32 Wes Smith Sr. F
No. 34 Dylan Logan Jr. G
No. 42 Ethan Smith So. F
No. 44 Drew Sherck Sr. C
No. 50 Jacob Brown So. C
The Spartans coaching staff
Head coach: Kerry Brown
Varsity Asst.: JD Miller
Junior Varsity coach: Chris Bottomley
Volunteer Asst.: Zac Rea
Freshman: Kodi Smith
Freshman Volunteer Asst.: Landon Speers
Managers: Katie Keegan and Cade Kelley
Director of Athletics: Brent Duncan
Asst. Athletic Director: Shane Russell
Athletic Department secretary: Bethann Pearson
Associated Press preseason Top 20
1 New Albany
2 Fort Wayne North
3 Ben Davis
5 McCutcheon (tie)
5 Indianapolis North Central (tie)
7 South Bend Riley
8 Warren Central
9 Bloomington South
10 Lawrence North
14 Floyd Central
17 Brownsburg (tie)
17 Hamilton Southeastern (tie)
17 Penn (tie)
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