The Rushville Lions and Shelbyville Golden Bears — two high school teams that any fan of Connersville Spartans’ sports has many memories about in some way — are dead center on the CHS roundball radar this weekend, starting tonight at Spartan Bowl.
The Spartans (2-0) will go for their first Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference victory of the season when they host the Lions (0-1) at 7:30 p.m.
The Golden Bears (2-0) will claw their way into the Bowl Saturday night, with tipoff set for 7:30. Shelbyville hosts Columbus North (2-0) tonight.
“Rushville is a good, solid team. They’re much improved over last year so it should be a good game,” Connersville head coach Kerry Brown said Thursday afternoon. The Lions finished 3-21 last season.
The Spartans opened the season last week with victories over Union County (63-40) and Delta (41-27), the latter coming after a slow start that saw the Eagles take a 5-1 advantage and lead 13-9 at halftime. Despite the two wins, CHS dropped in the Associated Press ratings, falling from 16th place to a tie for the 21st spot with Indianapolis Cathedral (1-0).
Rushville lost its season opener to Shelbyville, 59-48. Three players scored in double figures for the Lions, with 6-0 senior Austyn Farley leading the way with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists.
Gage Rosenfeld and Mason Springman scored 10 points apiece, with Duncan Draper and Tyler Wilson both scoring 6 points. All four are juniors.
Jacob Ray, a 6-7 junior, and 6-2 sophomore Eric Brown did not score against the Golden Bears but combined for 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocked shots.
“Farley is their best player so we obviously have to contain him and we have to do a decent job on their big men,” said Brown. “They’re an athletic team with strong kids and they have some veteran players.
“We have to play well defensively and execute our offense against whatever defense they play against us.”
Brown said the team and coaching staff have not looked ahead to the Shelbyville game. The players and staff know Connersville must focus it’s defensive efforts toward stopping 6-3 junior Zach Kuhn, who averages 21 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists a game.
Kuhn — who scored 31 against CHS last season in the Spartans’ hectic 59-57 overtime win — had just 6 points on 1-for-12 shooting against Rushville, but bounced back with 36 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists in the Golden Bears 69-63 victory over Triton Central. He made 8-of-11 3-pointers.
Brock Blackwell, a 6-3 senior, averages 18 points and 6.5 rebounds for Shelbyville, Sam Lewis, a 6-0 senior, averages 14 points, 4.5 assists and 4 rebounds, and 5-9 junior Josh Williams contributes 10 points, 6.5 boards and 3.5 assists.
“We know we have to contain Kuhn — he’s a Division I talent — and we’ve got to guard everywhere at the 3-point line, that’s the big thing,” noted Brown.
After the sluggish first half against Delta, the Spartans came alive, protected the ball better and knocked down shots to take a 24-20 advantage after three quarters.
With less than 4 minutes to play and Connersville leading, 33-25, the Spartans got a left-handed layin and pair of free throws by junior Noah Belt, and two free throws each by seniors Dalton Lee and Braxton Revalee to win going away.
Garrett Silcott scored 12 of his game-high 14 points in the second half for CHS. The senior guard also had 5 rebounds and 3 steals.
Senior Wes Smith had 8 points and 4 rebounds, Belt finished with 6 points and 3 rebounds, 6-6 sophomore Jacob Brown had 4 points and 5 caroms, senior Tyler Combs made the team’s only 3-pointer and scored 3 points, Lee had 2 points and 5 assists, Revalee finished with 2 points and 2 assists and senior Drew Sherck scored 2 points and pulled down 2 boards.
Senior Dalton Ailes and junior Dylan Logan played but did not score.
The Spartans shot 14-for-30 from the floor — 13-of-22 on 2-point shots but just 1-for-8 from 3-point land. CHS made 12 free throws in 15 attempts.
Brown said he’s pleased with the way the team has played unselfishly, and that the defensive effort so far has been “pretty decent.”
He’s also pleased about the Spartan Nation fanbase that turned out in large numbers last week.
“The crowd at the Union County game was as good as I’ve ever seen it. The stands were packed and people were standing around the top,” he said. “They really outdid themselves and the players and coaches really appreciate the support.”
The Junior Varsity games tip-off at 6 p.m. both nights.
Notes: A year ago, CHS drubbed Rushville, 45-15, holding the Lions to just 8 points in the final three quarters at Memorial Gymnasium. All 10 Spartans who played scored. … The Spartans have won 20 consecutive EIAC games. … According to the 2017 CHS Cheerblock (@chscheerblockk) on Twitter, the theme for tonight’s Rushville game is ‘Jersey Night.’
If you can’t make it to either 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.
(Stats via Maxpreps)
Connersville statistics (2-0)
Garrett Silcott: 34 pts / 17 ppg, 3 r, 3 st, 1.5 a
Noah Belt: 22 pts / 11 ppg, 2.5 r, 1 a, 1 st
Dalton Lee: 15 pts / 7.5 ppg, 3.5 a, 1 r
Wes Smith: 12 pts / 6 ppg, 2.5 r, 0.5 a
Jacob Brown: 8 pts / 4 ppg, 5 r, 1 bk
Drew Sherck: 6 pts / 3 ppg, 1.5 r
Tyler Combs: 3 pts / 1.5 ppg, 1 r, 1 a
Braxton Revalee: 2 pts / 1 ppg, 2 r, 2 a, 1 st
Dylan Logan: 2 pts / 1 ppg, 0.5 r
Dalton Ailes: 0 pts / 0 ppg
Clay Garrison: —
Garrett Wickes: —
Ethan Smith: —
Connersville area / games of interest
(All games begin at 7:30 p.m. unless noted)
Rushville (0-1) at Connersville (2-0, 4A No. 21) •
Greensburg (2-0, 3A No. 16) at Batesville (1-0)
Jac-Cen-Del (0-2) at South Dearborn (1-1)
Columbus North (2-0) at Shelbyville (2-0)
Indianapolis North Central (1-0, 4A No. 7) at Richmond (1-1)
New Castle (1-0) at Hamilton Heights (0-2)
Cambridge City Lincoln (2-1) at Union (Modoc) (0-2) (6:30 p.m.)
Knightstown (1-1) at Union County (1-1) ‡ (8 p.m.)
Northeastern (1-1, 2A No. 12) at Centerville (1-1) ‡
Winchester (0-2) at Wapahani (2-0, 2A No. 22)
Lapel (0-2) at Pendleton Heights (1-1)
Mt. Vernon (Fortville) (2-0) at Covenant Christian (1-0)
Tri (0-2) at Blue River (0-2)
New Palestine (1-0) at Shenandoah (2-0, 2A No. 6)
Hauser (2-1) at Morristown (2-0, 1A No. 17)
Oldenburg Academy (1-0, 1A No. 7) at Edinburgh (1-1)
(• = Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference game)
(‡ = Tri-Eastern Conference game)
Shelbyville at Connersville
Franklin County at Centerville
New Palestine at Rushville
Anderson (2-0) at New Castle
Lawrenceburg (0-1) at Milan (2-0, 2A No. 22)
Shenandoah (2-0, 2A No. 6) at Alexandria (2-1)
Morristown (2-0, 1A No. 17) at Oldenburg Academy (1-0, 1A No. 7)
East Central (0-0) at Richmond (postponed)
Mr. Pizza, Cambridge City