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Trojan hurdle

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

NEW CASTLE — Heading into Saturday night’s game against New Castle, having already beaten No. 1 Indianapolis Attucks (No. 1 at the time) and Greensburg (No. 4), the Connersville Spartans had an opportunity to knock off their third Class 3A top-five team in the past five games, something nearly no team ever gets the chance to do.

Following a loss to the Trojans on their home floor however, the Spartans will have to settle for two wins amongst those three teams.

Luke Bumbalough hit a trio of 3-pointers and finished with 24 points, leading second-ranked New Castle to a 48-37 victory.

“We’ve played so well on this floor the last several times that we’ve been here, but tonight we just didn’t make the shots,” Connersville head coach Kerry Brown said afterward. “New Castle is a very good team, and I knew coming in here that we had to shoot the ball very well, and I’m not sure we did that tonight.”

CHS finished the game 17-of-43 from the floor (39.5 percent), and Brown believed that that number could have been better.

“I thought that the types of shots that we got were pretty good ones, for the most part, but there were a few times we didn’t help ourselves,” he said. “I knew that if we could have kept the game in the 40s, we’d have a good chance to win, and if it got into the 50s, we’d have an okay chance at winning.

“I thought a lot of the things that we did tonight put us in a position to be successful, but just could not get over the hump in the fourth quarter.”

Connersville led 8-7 at the first break, but was outscored 14-6 through the second, settling for a 21-14 deficit heading into halftime.

Things didn’t get any better in the third, as the Trojans ran out of the locker room scoring seven unanswered points to open up a 14-point lead, on the way to a 35-23 lead heading into the final frame.

A 3-pointer by Luke Bumbalough, his third of the game, 22 seconds into the fourth quarter, pushed the lead to 15, and the Spartans never got it any closer than 11 the rest of the way.

“I give our kids credit, they kept battling and competing, especially there in the fourth quarter, where I thought we were more aggressive than they were,” Brown said of his charges. We just had a couple of breakdowns on defense and missed on some key shots.”

Bumbalough led all scorers with 24 points, and he was followed by teammates Niah Williamson and Mason Gillis with 11 and 10, respectively.

The Spartans were led by Garrett Silcott’s 16 points. Jacob Brown added four baskets for eight points.

The loss dropped Connersville to 11-3 on the season, while New Castle improved to 12-0.

“There is still work to do,” Brown said. “Our conference is still in line and sectional is still in line, and we got to learn some lessons from a very good opponent tonight.

“We have great kids, boys that work very hard. We might not have any Division I players, but the sum of our entire team is better than the parts. Tonight just wasn’t our night.”

In the junior varsity game, CHS jumped out to a 15-7 first-quarter lead, and withstood several New Castle comeback efforts, to come away with a 47-41 victory.

The Trojan reserves shaved the Connersville lead to 20-16 by halftime, and battled their way to within a point in the fourth quarter.

Jonah Graham paced the Spartan reserves, nailing five 3-pointers in the game, on the way to 22 points. Ethan Smith added 11 points and Colton Sullenbarger contributed nine.

The Spartan boys are in action again on Saturday, when the team plays host to Muncie Central. 

TROJANS 48, SPARTANS 37

(at New Castle Fieldhouse)

Connersville 8 14 23 37

New Castle 7 21 35 48

Connersville (11-3) — Clay Garrison 0-3 0-0 0, Garrett Silcott 7-12 1-4 16, Braxton Revalee 2-5 0-0 5, Garrett Wickes 1-1 0-0 2, Dalton Lee 0-4 0-0 0, Noah Belt 2-8 0-3 4, Wes Smith 1-6 0-0 2, Jacob Brown 4-4 0-0 8. Totals 17-43 1-7 37.

New Castle (12-0) — Luke Bumbalough 7-10 7-7 24, Bryce Huntley 0-0 0-0 0, Blake Burris 0-1 1-3 1, Niah Williamson 3-7 3-4 11, Nicholas Grieser 1-4 0-0 2, Mason Gillis 5-7 0-0 10, Bryce Webb 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-29 11-14 48.

3-pointers — Connersville 2-15 (Silcott 1-3, Revalee 1-4, Garrison 0-1, Lee 0-1, Smith 0-2, Belt 0-4), New Castle 5-13 (Bumbalough 3-5, Williamson 2-6, Burris 0-1, Gillis 0-1). Rebounds — Connersville 22, New Castle 19. Turnovers — Connersville 6, New Castle 9. Total fouls — Connersville 14 (Garrison 4, Silcott 3, Revalee 2, Lee 2, Belt 2, Brown 1), New Castle 12 (Gillis 4, Williamson 2, Webb 2, Bumbalough, Huntley, Burris, Grieser).

JUNIOR VARSITY

Spartans 47, Trojans 41

Connersville 15 20 29 47

New Castle 7 16 23 41

Connersville — Jonah Graham 6 5-6 22, Tanner Brock 0 0-0 0, Dylan Logan 0 2-4 2, Garrett Wickes 0 0-0 0, Trevor Young 0 0-0 0, Colton Sullenbarger 3 2-3 9, Damon Huffman 0 0-0 0, Ethan Smith 4 3-5 11, Sebastian Burch 1 1-2 3. Totals 14 13-20 47.

New Castle — Michael Holmes 0 0-0 0, Cole McDaniel 4 2-2 13, William Grieser 3 5-5 13, Dakota Durick 0 0-0 0, Sam Lowe 2 0-0 5, Logan Hinton 2 0-0 5, Brandon Matney 0 3-7 3, Collin Blessinger 1 0-0 2. Totals 12 10-14 41.

3-pointers — Connersville 6 (Graham 5, Sullenbarger 1), New Castle 7 (McDaniel 3, Grieser 2, Lowe, Hinton). Connersville 18 (Graham 4, Logan 3, Sullenbarger 3, Young 2, Burch 2, Smith 2, Huffman, Brock), New Castle 17 (Grieser 4, Holmes 3, McDaniel 3, Lowe 3, Matney 2, Durick, Hinton).