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Cardiac Spartans victorious again on buzzer beater

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Connersville center Jacob Brown (50)scoresa lay-up in the closing seconds to lift the Spartans to a 41-39 victory over Lawrence North at Spartan Bowl on Saturday. Brown’s game-winner was the second straight for CHS, as the junior also delivered the deciding shot at the buzzer last Saturday against visiting Indianapolis North Central.
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Connersville senior Noah Belt (30) is assisted to his feet by teammate Jacob Brown and Clay Garrison (10) after going hard to the flooragainst Lawrence North at Spartan Bowl on Saturday. Belt finished with 10 points in CHS' 41-39 victory over the Wildcats.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

Those who claim that lightning never strikes twice in the same place, have not watched the Connersville High School boys basketball team play in Spartan Bowl over the past two Saturdays.

Little more than a week ago, trailing Indianapolis North Central in the closing seconds, junior center Jacob Brown took a pass in the lane and converted a lay-up to knock off the Panthers 45-44.

This past Saturday, hosting Lawrence North, Brown received another nifty assist in nearly the exact same place just prior to the buzzer, and once more deposited the lay-up to deliver Connersville to victory, 41-39.

In fairness, there was one notable difference between the two finishes, however.

In the win over North Central, Ethan Smith provided the game-winning assist to Brown.

On Saturday, Noah Belt did the honors.

“They did a good job executing that play,” Connersville boys basketball coach Kerry Brown said, following the win over the Wildcats on Saturday. “Hopefully, we had our second and third options in place had we missed there, but it looked really good from where I was sitting.”

In addition to running the final play to near perfection, Brown added that the timing in putting it into motion was also flawless.

“The way (Lawrence North) was rebounding on the offensive boards, I was not sure that I wanted us to take that final shot any earlier. Had (Lawrence North) gotten a rebound from that, they would have had plenty of time to set up a play on their end.

 

“Give our kids credit, they understood that, took their time, and got things going at precisely the right time.”

The two recent wins erased a four-game slide, CHS’ only losing streak of the season.

“We’ve gotten better the last two weeks,” coach Brown said. “There is more talk, more communication on the court, and I really feel that has helped improve us as a team.”

The Wildcats grabbed an early lead in the game, and took a five-point advantage (22-17) into the second half.

 

“We weren’t in rhythm at the start of the game, due to how fast they were forcing us to play,” coach Brown said. “But once we settled in, I thought we played pretty well.”

Jared Hankins helped the visitors move in front with 3-point shooting, the 6-4 senior knocking down five shots from beyond the line in the game. His final one in the closing minute tied the game at 39-39 and set the game up for CHS’ final shot.

“Our goal was the win the paint, and sometimes when you focus on that, you’re going to give up some of those shots,” Brown noted.

Connersville sophomore Jonah Graham helped stem the tide of treys from Hankins by hitting three of his own in the game.

“We needed someone to step up. Jonah hit his shots and we needed that,” Brown said. “We’ve been trying to make our bench more productive, and that has not happened to this point and time. But he did a nice job in this game, and we needed him, as we were a little shorthanded today.”

In addition to the individual heroics from several players, Brown pointed out a team statistic that was key in allowing the game to go CHS’ way.

“Getting stops, taking charges and just over all competing was huge for us,” he said, before adding, “But, I think having only six turnovers was the difference in the game. Having a number like that is going to keep us in a lot of ballgames.”

Jacob Brown led Connersville with 11 points, followed by Belt with 10. Graham added nine, and the duo of Clay Garrison and Smith chipped in six and five, respectively.

In the junior varsity game, the Spartan reserves were unable to overcome a 17-5 first quarter, and wound up falling by a 48-33 margin. 

Connersville did manage to keep the game respectable throughout the final three quarters, trailing by only three (31-28) through those three frames, but the damage had already been done in the first stanza. 

Kaleb Sparks and Cole Martin each scored eight points to pace CHS. Eight different Spartans put points on the board in the loss.

Connersville (10-5) moves back into Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference play this week, facing both Batesville and East Central this week.

“I’m going to move on from this game,” coach Brown said. “They can hold onto it a little longer, but they better be ready move on by Monday, because we have Batesville on Tuesday and East Central on Thursday.

 

“I told the kids that those are two teams that are capable of beating us.”

 

SPARTANS 41, WILDCATS 39

(at Spartan Bowl)

Lawrence North`10`22`33`39

Connersville`7`17`29`41

Lawrence North (11-6) — David Perkins 0 0-0 0, Jared Hankins 5 0-0 15, Shamar Avance 0 0-0 0, Tony Perkins 3 4-4 12, Dorean Hatton 2 1-2 6, D.J. Hughes 3 0-0 6. TOTALS 13 5-6 39.

Connersville (10-7) — Jonah Graham 3 0-0 9, Clay Garrison 3 0-0 6, Tobey Billups 0 0-0 0, Noah Belt 3 4-5 10, Ethan Smith 2 0-0 5, Jacob Brown 4 3-4 11. TOTALS 15 7-9 41.

3-pointers — Lawrence North 8 (Hankins 5, T. Perkins 2, Hatton 1), Connersville 4 (Graham 3, Smith 1). Turnovers — Lawrence North 10, Connersville 6. Total fouls — Lawrence North 12 (Avance 4, Hankins 3, D. Perkins 2, T. Perkins, Hatton, Hughes), Connersville 9 (Garrison 3, Belt 2, Brown 2, Graham, Smith).

Junior Varsity

WILDCATS 48, SPARTANS 33

Lawrence North`17`25`34`48

Connersville`5`14`16`33

Lawrence North — Beatty 2 2-2 7, Webb 1 0-0 2, Harris 2 1-4 6, Cooper 1 2-2 4, Batie 2 2-2 6, Grant 1 0-0 3, Robinson 4 0-0 6, Montgomery 6 3-4 14. TOTALS 19 10-14 48.

Connersville — Carter Bodwell 0 2-2 2, Tobey Billups 0 0-0 0, Tanner Brock 0 2-2 2, Luke Garrison 2 0-0 5, Luke Sullenbarger 2 0-0 4, Riley Moore 0 0-0 0, Sebastian Burch 1 0-0 2, Kaleb Sparks 3 0-0 8, Trevor Young 0 0-0 0, Damon Huffman 1 1-1 3, Cole Martin 3 0-0 7. TOTALS 12 5-5

3-pointers — Lawrence North 4 (Beatty, Harris, Grant, Montgomery), Connersville 4 (Sparks 2, Garrison, Martin).

— — —

Today’s game

BATESVILLE (11-5) AT CONNERSVILLE (10-7)

Game time: 7:30 p.m. at Spartan Bowl

Coaches: Aaron Garrett, 167-82 in 11th year at Batesville. Kerry Brown, 154-88 in 10th year at Connersville, 236-186 in 18th year overall.

Sagarin ratings: Connersville, 78.39, 73rd overall, 51st in 4A. Batesville, 73.14, 121st overall, 32nd in 3A.

Last outing: Batesville defeated Madison, 73-69. Connersville defeated Lawrence North, 41-39.

vs. Common foes: Batesville 2-2; Connersville 2-2.

Opponents’ records: Batesville 153-114. Connersville 168-129.

Series last 30 years: Batesville, 6-5.

Last meeting: Batesville, 49-48, Jan. 20, 2018.