Login NowClose 
Sign In to thecouriertimes.com           
Forgot Password

Trojans remain unbeaten, finally defeat Spartans

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

Coming into Saturday night’s game, the Class 3A No. 2 New Castle High School boys basketball team had lost five straight games to Connersville, including the past two Class 4A Sectional 9 championship contests.

That streak did not reach six, as the host Trojans took the lead for good early in the second quarter, expanded it some, and then maintained an advantage the rest of the way to post a 48-37 win over the Spartans in the Fieldhouse.

New Castle remained undefeated at 12-0 and is one win shy of tying the school record for most consecutive victories to start a season. Connersville dropped to 11-3 for the campaign.

“We knew this would be a hard-fought game,” New Castle Coach Daniel Cox said afterward. “They (Spartans) are a well-coached and disciplined team who takes care of the ball, and we knew each possession would be valuable. Once we got the lead, we were able to hold onto it.”

The Spartans took an early 4-0 lead on buckets from Wes Smith and Garrett Silcott as the Trojans got off to a slow start.

New Castle didn’t score until Luke Bumbalough stole the ball at midcourt, drove in for a lay-up, and was fouled. He converted the three-point play to trim the Connersville lead to 4-3 with 3:27 remaining in the first quarter.

The Spartans’ Jacob Brown scored baskets, sandwiched around one from the Trojans’ Niah Williamson, and the visitors led 8-5 with 1:47 left in the opening period. Bumbalough then drained two free throws at the 1:32 mark and the hosts trailed 8-7 after one.

New Castle shot just 2-for-8 (25 percent) from the field in the opening frame while Connersville was 4-for-10 (40 percent).

Mason Gillis got his first bucket for the Trojans’ first lead with 6:18 remaining in the second quarter. Williamson buried a three-pointer at the 4:59 mark to extend the host’s advantage to 12-8.

After Silcott hit one of two charity tosses, Bumbalough made two freebies with 3:43 remaining in the period and Gillis added a basket a little more than a minute later for a 16-9 New Castle lead.

A Silcott three-pointer, another Gillis bucket, and a field goal by the Spartans’ Garrett Wilkes left the score 18-14 in favor of the hosts with 50 seconds left in the first half. Williamson then nailed his second trey of the quarter with six seconds remaining to give the Trojans a 21-14 lead at intermission.

New Castle was a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line in the first half while Connersville was just 1-of-4.

“I was really pleased with our effort defensively in this game except when Silcott got loose for a couple of easy baskets late in the game,” Cox explained. “We held him below his average, we held (Noah) Belt seven points below his average, and most of their other players didn’t score as much as they usually do.”

Two buckets from Gillis sandwiched around a three-pointer by Bumbalough expanded the Trojan advantage to 28-14 at the 4:53 mark of the third quarter, prompting a timeout called by Spartans Coach Kerry Brown.

After the brief break, Brown scored back-to-back baskets and New Castle’s Nick Grieser hit a bucket but missed the charity toss on a potential traditional three-point play, and the hosts led 30-18 with 2:50 remaining in the quarter.

Gillis was called for his fourth personal foul with 2:33 left in the third period and took a seat on the pines.

Braxton Revalee drained a three-pointer for Connersville 16 seconds later, and the Trojan lead had been chopped to 30-21.

But a Bumbalough trey and bucket in the remaining time in the frame more than made up for a basket by Silcott, and New Castle held a 35-23 advantage after three.

The hosts shot 6-of-9 from the field in the third stanza while their guests were 4-for-8.

Another Bumbalough three-pointer 15 seconds into the fourth quarter made it 38-23. The Spartans didn’t score until Silcott tallied a bucket at the 6:27 mark of the period. Williamson then hit a charity toss with 5:50 remaining in the game for a 39-25 advantage.

No one scored again for 1:43 until the Trojan lead reached its zenith at 41-25 on another Bumbalough bucket with 4:07 left in the contest.

“We remember how last year ended, and it left a bad taste in our mouths,” Bumbalough said after the game. “We wanted to get rid of that bad taste, and the only way was with a win against them. We knew they liked to play with the lead, so once we took the lead we made sure we held onto it. We defended against their scorers really well. We want to keep rolling and set some records in the process.”

Down 16 points with half a quarter to play, Connersville was forced to abandon its deliberate tactics and speed up the pace. Gillis already had re-entered the game by this time. The Spartans were able to eventually whittle the New Castle advantage down to 46-37 on a Silcott basket with 35 seconds remaining, but it was too little, too late for the visitors.

The Trojans took only four shots in the fourth period, hitting three, and made 6-of-9 free throws in the final stanza. Bumbalough scored nine points in the quarter and Williamson three. Silcott tallied eight points for Connersville in the last frame and Noah Belt had all four his points that period for the Spartans.

New Castle turned the ball over six times in the final period, but only nine in the game. The visitors had just six turnovers in the contest. The Trojans held a narrow margin on the boards, 22-21.

“We need to take care of the basketball a little better with the lead,” Cox added, “but I have confidence we’ll get that figured out. We have four conference games left to play, starting this Friday, and a lot of goals still to achieve. I’m happy we were able to take care of our home court these past several games.”

For the game, New Castle was 16-of-30 from the floor (53.3 percent) and 11-of-15 from the charity stripe (73.3 percent). Connersville countered with 17-of-42 from the field (40.5 percent) but only a paltry 1-of-7 (14.3 percent) from the free throw line.

Bumbalough led the Trojans with 24 points, Williamson had 11, and Gillis 10. Gillis pulled down nine rebounds and Bumbalough had four.

Silcott led the Spartans in scoring with 16 points and had four rebounds. Brown scored eight points and Smith and Belt corralled five caroms apiece.

Connersville won the junior varsity contest 47-41. Jonah Graham scored 22 points and Ethan Smith 11 for the Spartans, while Cole McDaniel and William Grieser led New Castle with 13 points apiece.

After playing at Greenfield-Central this Friday, the Trojans will travel to Rushville Saturday.

New Castle 48, Connersville 37


Silcott 7-12 1-4 16, Revalee 2-5 0-0 5, Lee 0-5 0-0 0, Belt 2-7 0-3 4, Smith 1-5 0-0 2, Brown 4-5 0-0 8, Garrison 0-2 0-0 0, Wickes 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 17-42 1-7 37.


Bumbalough 7-10 7-7 24, Williamson 3-7 3-4 11, Grieser 1-5 0-1 2, Gillis 5-7 0-0 10, Webb 0-0 0-0 0, Burris 0-1 1-3 1, B. Huntley 0-0 0-0 0, Hardwick 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-30 11-15 48.

Connersville 8 6 9 14 — 37

New Castle 7 14 14 13 — 48

3-point goals – Connersville 2 (Silcott, Revalee), New Castle 5 (Bumbalough 3, Williamson 2). Rebounds – Connersville 21 (Belt 5, Smith 5, Silcott 4), New Castle 22 (Gillis 9, Bumbalough 4). Total fouls – Connersville 14, New Castle 12. Turnovers – Connersville 6, New Castle 9. JV score – Connersville 47, New Castle 41. Records – Connersville 11-3, New Castle 12-0.