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Double duty

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Connersville senior Noah Belt (30) drives to the basket against Shelbyville’s Mitch Yeend on Dec. 1. Belt and the Spartans go in search of wins 4 and 5 this weekend against South Dearborn and Richmond.
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Connersville’s Dylan Logan and Jacob Brown (50) apply defensive pressure against Union County’s Nate Webb in a game between the two squads at Spartan Bowl on Nov. 21. Connersville defense will be tested twice this week, as the team hosts South Dearborn on Friday, then travels to Richmond on Saturday.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

Following a successful night against Pendleton Heights on Saturday, a team that many Connersville fans had circled on their schedule (due to an overtime loss last season), the Spartan boys will dip back into Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference waters Friday night, when the team plays host to South Dearborn on Friday.

The Spartans will follow that with a Saturday contest on the road against rival Richmond.

Friday’s game will be part of a rare doubleheader, as the CHS girls varsity team will play the Lady Knights at 6 p.m., followed by the varsity boys at 7:30 p.m. Both junior varsity games will be played in the Spartan Arena.

South Dearborn comes into the boys game with a 2-3 mark, the Knights ending a brief skid with a 45-33 victory over Franklin County on Saturday. Prior to that, the squad from Aurora suffered setbacks to Greensburg, Jac-Cen-Del and Madison.

In spite of the losing record, Connersville head coach Kerry Brown has advised his team to proceed with some caution.

“South Dearborn is a conference game, and the goal is to win this game this weekend,” Brown said. “If we come out of the weekend with two wins, then so be it, but the conference always comes first. We’re going to prepare for them all week.”

That means the Spartans will be getting prepared to face some physical play, Brown added.

“We went and watched them (Friday) night, and they’re extremely physical,” he said. “They play very hard, they press and they transition very well. To me they’re a very dangerous basketball team right now.

“They got beat by a very good Greensburg team, and by Madison last night. They were also beaten by one by Jac-Cen-Del. It’s a good thing we got them coming here, and that we’re not going down there.

“This is a conference game, so we know that anything can happen.”

Connersville, who is 1-0 in the EIAC, along with Greensburg and Batesville, has plenty at stake this season, as the Spartans are the four-time defending champion in the conference. Since Dec. 5, 2014, the Spartans have lost only one EIAC contest, that defeat coming last year at Batesville.

Several new cast members are on the court this time around, however.

Gone from the four-time champs are seniors Dalton Ailes, Tyler Combs, Dalton Lee, Braxton Revalee, Drew Sherck, Garrett Silcott and Wes Smith.

In their place, Connersville will have players Tanner Brock, Sebastian Burch, Jonah Graham, Damon Huffman, Dylan Logan, Ethan Smith, Colton Sullenbarger and Trevor Young on the roster.

South Dearborn is capable of putting points on the board, evidenced by a 66-point effort against Jac-Cen-Del, and a 62-point night at Rising Sun to open the season.

Connersville will follow the home conference tilt with a road game at Richmond on Saturday night.

Heading into Friday night’s game at Indianapolis Tech, the Red Devils have split four games this season, beating Jay County and Marion, while falling to North Central (Indianapolis) and East Central. The loss to EC was by two, 57-55.

Through four games, a pair of brothers who transfered in from Fort Wayne have proven to be the scoring threat for RHS. Lucas Croft has been the scoring threat for RHS, the senior averaging 25.3 points per contest. Against North Central, he poured in 34 points.

Younger brother Andrew, a sophomore, adds another 13.3 points per night. 

A third transfer student, senior Jalen Hilliard from Northeastern High School, checks in with nine points per game.

In Richmond’s two victories (leading up to Friday’s game), the team has breached the 70-point mark, proving the team can score in large numbers.

The Spartans have won the past five meetings between the two teams. Connersville’s last loss to Richmond occurred in the sectional championship game on March 7, 2015.

Richmond advanced to the semistate game that season.