When Michael Pulver went down with an injury in mid-season, it was a blow to Blackhawk Christian both on the court and in the locker room.
But when you hear how he suffered the broken bone in his wrist that sidelined him for four games, you can’t help but smile a bit.
“It was on a play where Michael was diving on the floor,” said Braves coach Marc Davidson. “That’s no surprise.”
Pulver doesn’t get the love that his more high-profile teammates like Caleb Furst and Frankie Davidson get, but it’s tough to visualize Blackhawk Christian (26-2) preparing for Lafayette Central Catholic (24-4) in Saturday’s 1A North Semistate at Elkhart without the veteran senior on the roster.
Pulver is the glue for the Braves. He is the guy who is always willing to sacrifice his body for a loose ball, completely ready to lock down a perimeter scorer on defense and absolutely confident in his ability to run the offense at the point.
In years past, Pulver was more of a scoring option for the Braves, known for his three point shooting prowess. This year, he is averaging just over 4 points a game.
That’s just fine with him.
“For me it wasn’t difficult playing a role that didn’t involve much scoring,” said Pulver about this season. “Our team came into this year with many pieces, and I was willing to do anything to help the team.
“If my role was to bring the ball up the court or cheer the team from the bench, I was going to give it my all.”
It is a refreshing deviation from the attitude of many prep basketball players today. Some of the standout teams in the area this year could have used a Michael Pulver — a hardworking, blue-collar type player that has put his personal stats behind team success.
“Earlier this year I heard (Purdue coach Matt Painter) talk in a press conference about a Fort Wayne guy, Grady Eifert,” Davidson said. “He talked about the willingness to do anything to help a team win and that is representative of a lot of our guys, especially Michael. Sometimes it is about what you are willing to sacrifice, what you are willing to lay aside for the team to be successful.”
Pulver even found the positives of being unable to play after suffering the injury in December.
“I knew that my role on the team wasn’t gone because I was on the bench,” Pulver said. I knew I could still encourage my teammates and give them advice.”
Luckily for the Braves, they have a fully healthy Pulver available for Saturday’s showdown with Lafayette Central Catholic. While his impact on the program could help the Braves capture their first-ever state championship, he will also leave a lasting impression to others.
“You can’t help but learn from him in practice,” Davidson said. “When you go head-to-head with him , you’re either going to get tougher or quit basketball and do something else. That’s how intense he is. He forces you to be tougher.
“We will feel the repercussions of his presence here long after he’s gone.”
Pulver and the Braves go for their first semi-state championship since 2004 on Saturday at North Side Gym in Elkhart. Tip is scheduled for 4 p.m.