Spartans one step closer to another title

BROOKVILLE – Franklin County fought tooth and nail with the favored Connersville Spartans Friday night at FC, but Kerry Brown’s squad posted a 29-16 advantage after halftime to pull themselves within shot of a third consecutive Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference championship.

A 30-26 game late in the third quarter after the hosts’ Quinn Gillman swished a three, CHS answered with a Gavin Pearson triple and outscored FC 13-6 in the final eight minutes to win 46-32. An 11-2 stretch to begin the fourth was particularly painful for Mark Foster’s Wildcats. Braxton Myers finished an impressive up-and-under basket off a lob from Josh Williams to open the frame. After a brief scoring lull, FC senior Brady Morehead got to the rack for two. But the next nine points belonged to the Spartans. Lucas Barron put in a second-chance effort and at 3:53, Myers found Williams spotting up from the corner for three more. A minute later, Myers completed a reverse layup and followed that with a pair of free throws. By the time the Cats’ Eli Butt
banged one in off the glass, FC trailed by 14 with just 1:07 left as a timeout was called.
The Wildcat gymnasium – filled to the rafters on both sides – was raucous as the game got underway and the hometown fans did most of the cheering through the first quarter and change. A 10-2 lead tends to have that effect. Senior Tanner Weartz had a 3-point bucket in the opening minute of action and a blocked shot at the other end. Classmate Jace Lee owned the next couple offensive sets, getting to the hoop twice for field goals and a 7-0 Wildcat lead. Connersville’s first taste of the net came at 2:30 when Williams used the backboard for a pair. FC came up with a couple more defensive stops aided by pilfers; one came with 12 seconds left, but the subsequent shot was off and CHS missed a three attempt and tip try as time expired. Another Morehead steal led to FC points early in the second period. Lee passed to a waiting Gillman in the corner, who finished the assist with a three-ball. As they’d do later in the evening, the Spartans closed the half out strong. A Williams jumper with 6:53 on the clock triggered a 15-6 CHS run. Butt had short answers for Williams’ makes – the 2 and a 3 from the top of the key – to keep FC up 14-7 as Brown stopped play with 4:19 remaining. The Spartans’ first non-Williams points came as Myers’ offensive game picked up; the senior scored quickly out of the timeout before picking FC’s pocket and driving in for two more. Foster called time at 3:48 as Connersville had crept to within three. Myers scored again and two foul shots for Barron gave CHS its first lead of the game at 15-14. Weartz hit a pair from the line to switch the lead, but Myers did the same to give the guests a 17-16 advantage that held until the intermission. CHS led from that point on.
Pearson’s three on the second half’s first possession was answered by Lee’s inside bucket. Williams’ dipsy-doo made it a 22-18 game and four points by Barron set the spread at eight points. Butt tripled at 5:08, only to have Barron and Myers push the lead to nine. A teardrop by Gillman preceded a Wildcat timeout with the score 30-23.

Myers led all scorers with 16 as Williams and Barron netted 12 apiece. Butt paced the home side with 9,
Gillman and Lee adding 8 each. Pearson had 6, Weartz 5 and Morehead 2.

FC (9-12, 2-5) will wrap up its regular season Thursday at Richmond’s Tiernan Center.

FC repeated as fundraising champion in the Beat Cancer in 4 Quarters competition between the schools,
raising a record amount of over $13,000.

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