NEW CASTLE — A dismal start nearly kept Greenfield-Central from earning its first sectional win in 13 years Tuesday against Richmond. Friday, however, it was the ending that cost them.
After leading 32-30 at the end of the third quarter, the Cougars were outscored 20-8 in the fourth quarter en route to a 50-40 loss to Connersville at the New Castle Sectional. The Spartans also beat Greenfield-Central 47-40 earlier this season.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game; a few possessions were going to affect the outcome,” Cougars head coach Michael Lewis said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t put our team in positions to be successful.”
The Cougars, who finished with the most wins (20-5) since the 1997-98 season, were led in scoring by seniors Tate Hall and Blake Robertson with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
“These kids have been unbelievable,” Lewis said. “This has been the most special group to coach. Their work ethic has been unmatched.”
Connersville (20-5), which was led by 6-foot-3 junior Beau Isaacs with 21 points, finished the game 12 of 24 from the field and 24-for-28 from the charity stripe. Greenfield-Central did not shoot a free throw in the loss.
“They were just better coached than our team,” Lewis said.
For the game, the Cougars finished 16 of 41 (39 percent) but won the rebounding battle 23-15.
Greenfield-Central, which received seven points from senior guard Chandler Bean, did not score in the fourth period until nearly a minute left after Robertson found room for a 3-pointer to make the score 42-35.
From there, the Spartans would make a living at the line to seal the win despite another Robertson 3-pointer.
According to Lewis, the 21 wins are also tied for the most ever in school history. Hall, Robertson, Bean and fellow seniors Kirill Schoellman, Jeremiah Fields, Jack Van Duyn and Gage Mann will greatly be missed.
“It was a great honor to coach them,” Lewis said. “They will go on to do great things after their basketball careers.”
Consecutive 3-pointers from Hall and a basket from junior guard Drey Jameson gave Greenfield-Central an 8-2 lead early in the first quarter. The Spartans would answer with a 5-2 run to close the quarter, however, as the Cougars led 10-7 after one.
Hall started the second quarter scoring with a layup, and Bean followed it with a driving score to put Greenfield-Central ahead 14-8 with five minutes remaining in the half.
Another Connersville run (11-5) saw the Spartans tie the game at 19-all at the break after a layup from sophomore point guard Garrett Silcott.
Senior guard Tyler Billups added 15 points for Connersville, who will play in the sectional title game today at 7:30 p.m.