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It’s been a while since the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tourney championship game included a starter who had played against a Perry County team—and even longer since one had played against Cannelton.
Walter McCarty, a starting forward for Coach Rick Pitino’s 1996 University of Kentucky championship team, played against Tell City and Perry Central while at Evansville Harrison.
Now 14 years later the NCAA championship starters included Butler center Matt Howard, who helped Connersville beat Cannelton 83-47 Dec. 30, 2004, at Cannelton when he was a sophomore for the Spartans.
Howard scored 10 points on 5 for 5 field-goal shooting, including three dunks.
That was current Cannelton Coach Brian Garrett’s first year at the Bulldogs’ helm.
“I remember Connersville’s coach told me before the game that Howard was going to be a special player,” Garrett said Monday.
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Butler’s 61-59 loss to Duke Monday was a classic, as it was one of the few that wasn’t decided until the final shot.
It was the closest final game since Michigan beat Seton Hall 80-79 in overtime in 1989.
Butler battled gamely considering the Bulldogs had no one taller than 6-foot-7 on the floor much of the time because the 6-8 Howard was in foul trouble.
Yes, I know forward Gordon Hayward is listed as 6-foot-9 and reserve center Avery Jukes as 6-8.
But when Hayward stood next to Clark Kellogg while Kellogg interviewed him after Saturday’s semifinal game, Kellogg appeared to be at least an inch taller than Hayward. And Kellogg was listed as 6-7 when he played for the Indiana Pacers.
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No Perry County basketball team has ever played at Indianapolis’ Conseco Fieldhouse, current site of the IHSAA boys state championship games. But one local team will get to play there this year.
Perry Central’s girls team will play Crawford County there Sunday, June 13, after a Indiana Fever vs. Connecticut Sun WNBA game.
The Fever vs. Sun game will start at 5 p.m. Perry County time. Perry Central’s junior varsity team will play Crawford County 25 minutes after the WNBA game, followed by a varsity game between those two schools.
As part of the agreement allowing them to play there, Perry Central and Crawford County each have to sell 100 tickets to the games.
So it is promotion for the Fever to try to draw more fans to their games, but it sounds like a winning deal for the high school teams as well.
Tickets are $15. Anyone interested in buying some should call Perry Central school at 843-5121 or Perry Central Coach Bill Dickerson at 843-4604.