The best thing a basketball team can do after a tough loss is bounce back with a win. Or two.
Which is exactly what the Connersville Spartans did last weekend, posting non-conference victories over Mt. Vernon (Fortville) and Indianapolis Manual at Spartan Bowl.
Connersville (14-4) took control early, got excellent contributions from its bench and never trailed against Manual, beating the Redskins, 52-37, Saturday night.
As if it was scripted, the Spartans’ 42-37 win over the Marauders on Friday went into overtime — the third consecutive game the teams have needed more than 32 minutes to decide the winner.
After a free throw by Noah Belt gave CHS a 3-2 lead on Manual, head coach Kerry Brown’s cagers began to pull away from the much taller Redskins team, taking a 13-8 lead after one quarter and a 20-15 advantage at the midway break.
A 3-pointer by Wilante Hankston to start the third quarter trimmed the deficit to 20-18, but the Spartans utilized strong defense, excellent passing and teamwork to pull away from the Marion County school.
CHS limited Manual to just 6 points in the third stanza, and scored 21 points in the final eight minutes to post win No. 14.
Belt, who led Connersville with 18 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists, made all 8 foul shots he attempted in the fourth quarter and was 9-of-10 overall.
Drew Sherck came off the bench and gave the Big Red a huge lift, scoring 8 points (6 in the fourth period), grabbing a pair of rebounds and picking up an assist. The 6-4 senior was 4-for-4 from the floor.
Jacob Brown turned in another strong performance in a reserve role, scoring 7 points, garnering 4 rebounds and registering an assist, Garrett Silcott had 6 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals, Braxton Revalee finished with 5 points, 1 rebound and a steal.
Another reserve, sophomore Clay Garrison, totaled 3 points, 2 boards, 2 assists and 2 steals, with both assists resulting in inside buckets by Sherck.
Dalton Lee had 3 points and 1 assist, Wes Smith had 2 points and 1 rebound and Tyler Combs grabbed a rebound. The other Spartans who come off the bench played but did not score.
CHS shot 18-for-31 from the floor, making 16-of-23 2-point attempts.
Six-seven Jalen Johnson, who averages nearly 23 points a game, managed 12 points to lead Manual.
Trailing Mt. Vernon 14-6 after one quarter, Connersville held the Marauders to 2 points in the second stanza, a basket by Damari Gatewood just 38 seconds before the half, and led 21-16 at the break.
CHS led by as many as 6 in the third quarter, and was ahead 35-31 after consecutive 3-pointers by Revalee and Belt, but MV chipped away and took a 37-35 lead on a trey by Peyton Meadors with 1:27 remaining.
Two free throws by Silcott with under a minute to play tied things at 37, resulting in overtime. The Spartans held the Marauders scoreless in the extra session to win, 42-37.
Wes Smith made the Spartans lone hoop in OT with Silcott converting a pair of free throws and Revalee sinking 1.
Silcott finished with a double-double, 17 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists, with Belt also reaching double figures, scoring 12 points and snatching 7 boards.
Garrison had 5 points, 2 assists, a rebound and a steal, Revalee had 4 points, 2 assists and a steal, Wes Smith finished 2 points, 4 rebounds and an assist, Brown had a basket and 1 rebound.
Lee, Combs and Wickes failed to score but contributed to the win, with Lee getting a rebound, steal and assist, Combs nabbing a rebound and dishing an assist and Wickes corralling 3 boards.
Gatewood scored 10 points to top Mt. Vernon.
The Jr. Spartans split their weekend action, falling to Mt. Vernon, 39-34, before defeating Manual’s JV, 38-26.
Jonah Graham led the Jr. Spartans in scoring in both games, tallying 15 points against MV and 12 against Manual. Ethan Smith scored 8 points in each game and Colton Sullenbarger scored 6 in each contest.
Trevor Young notched 3 against MV, Wickes scored 2. Wickes had 6 points in the win over Manual with Damon Huffman adding 4 and Sabastian Burch 2.
Coach Chris Bottomley’s Jr. Spartans are 14-4.
With the IHSAA girls sectionals underway this week, including Class 4A Sectional 9 at Spartan Bowl, Connersville has a Friday night off but will return to action Saturday afternoon at Centerville.
The Spartans and Bulldogs get started at 1:30 p.m. with the junior varsity contest beginning at noon. Centerville (8-9) beat Winchester, 44-37, Wednesday night in a Tri-Eastern Conference game.
You can listen to the CHS-Centerville game 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)
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