Blackhawk Christian met a strong challenge in the first half of their game Tuesday night at Adams Central, but came out on top 82-61 to remain unbeaten on the season.
The Flying Jets (5-2) played with enthusiasm and hit big shots throughout the course of the first half, trading the lead back-and-forth with a Braves team (6-0) that is still without Caleb Furst and Michael Pulver due to injuries.
The first half was a strategic chess match as Adams Central coach Aaron McClure did an excellent job positioning his pieces around the court from the sideline. Once the Flying Jets got comfortable in a half court setting, they were able to put up some big shots against the Braves and also work the ball inside a little bit on their press breaker.
When they couldn’t get set up in the half court, Adams Central often barely got the ball across the mid court line as Blackhawk’s full-court press was difficult to break throughout the night. Though the Braves ramped up their intensity in the second half, they were tough in the first half as well. Constantly, the Braves guards were getting into Adams Central passing lanes and creating overall chaos. Abe Hicks, Frankie Davidson and Zane Burke all took turns being defensive stoppers while Trinity Clark added his own variety of intensity off the bench, playing the role of aggressor and cheerleader, with a clap here and a yell there, pumping up his teammates.
Still, after the first quarter the score was 17-17 and Adams Central trailed just 35-30 at halftime after a buzzer beating three pointer from Kevin Brown.
“I think Aaron McClure is a heck of a basketball coach. His kids, they always run their stuff, they play their game. For us, it was big trying to get the game more to our pace,” Blackhawk Christian coach Marc Davidson said. “Adams Central is going to win a lot of games for sure.”
While the Flying Jets had 6-foot-8 Dylan Miller to rely on inside, Blackhawk did admirably without their own true big man. Instead, Cooper Wild got the start and held his own inside against the bigger and more experienced Miller. Miller’s game didn’t pick up much until the second half, where he scored 10 of his 13 points before fouling out of the game.
If anything helped Blackhawk’s already tough to defend game, it was their ability to out rebound Adams Central at almost every turn. Second and third opportunities on offense for the Braves also led to one shot possessions for Adams Central as Blackhawk Christian took to the boards.
“Cooper Wild was really active on the offensive boards. He gets us so many extra possessions,” Marc Davidson said.
In the second half, Blackhawk’s first half game was just turned up to another level. They caused constant Adams Central turnovers leading to easy baskets. And even when the Flying Jets were able to slow Blackhawk’s pace down, one of the best scoring teams in the state had no problem knocking down timely three pointers. While Frankie Davidson remained the usual suspect on offense for the Braves, it was Burke who led the team on the night. In his own sneaky way, Burke was critical for countering Flying Jet runs with his own buckets.
“We wanted to really force the tempo,” Marc Davidson said. “In the second half I thought we did a better job of playing at our pace and style. There is still room for growth in that area, but the second half was better.”
Blackhawk Christian was able to push the lead to 48-34 midway through the third quarter.
But just as the Braves knocked down shots, so to did Adams Central’s Brown (aka “Downtown” according to the PA announcer), who has made an impression as one of the best knock down shooters in the area. Anytime Brown was able to create enough space from the Blackhawk defense, he was hitting big shots and keeping the Flying Jets within in range until deep into the fourth quarter.
After three, Blackhawk Christian’s lead again was down to just eight points before they really took off in the fourth quarter.
Burke led all scorers with 27 points while Frankie Davidson added 24 for the Braves. Brown scored 24 points as well to lead Adams Central.
Blackhawk now turns their attention to host Indianapolis Manual at Manual’s day long shootout on Saturday. They will still be without their two injured players. Furst and Pulver may be back in time for the North Daviees tournament in two weeks. The Braves won the tournament last year, knocking off then unbeaten Barr Reeve, who could pose a threat again to Blackhawk Christian this year as one of the top teams in the state in Class 1A.
“Manual is going to be a tough game even if we were at full strength,” Marc Davidson said. “We’ll have to handle their pressure and rebounding is going to have to be big, they are really active on the boards.”