When Blackhawk Christian senior Jacob Lindsey stood on the stage Wednesday during the school’s pep rally — microphone in hand — his wry grin was undeniable. Lindsey has played in just 17 games this season, hit a second lowest 12 shots, yet nobody in the program would deny his importance.
On a team that curtails their emotion, Lindsey rarely holds back his. On the bench when a big play is made or a big dunk throw down, Lindsey is the first to jump up from his seat and celebrate with passion. The look on his face last Saturday when Blackhawk Christian athletic director Joel Cotton handed him the basketball from the semistate game said without words what Lindsey would tweet himself on Sunday:
“I’ve dreamt my whole life that one day I would walk into Bankers Life Fieldhouse wearing a Blackhawk Christian jersey. #DreamComeTrue”
He is the consummate dream teammates, one that encourages his team to the highest level. Instead of shrinking on the bench when he isn’t in the game, he makes every moment count. That is too rare.
Lindsey has grown up in the Braves system and has been a successful part of the school’s soccer program as well. If anyone bleeds Blackhawk Christian, this kid does. His passion doesn’t go unnoticed and that is why Cotton put the microphone in his hand Wednesday. If anyone on this state title game bound team was going to address the student body at a pep rally, it had to be the kid who may want that blue ribboned medal the most. Smile and all, Lindsey is going to love his Saturday.
THE INTENSITY OF TRINITY
When Trinity Clark transferred in to Blackhawk Christian a year ago from Bishop Dwenger, where his older brothers found success on the gridiron, he knew already what his role had to be for the Braves when he got to take the court as a senior.
“I have kind of always been a hyper guy so being able to come out in the game and show my true energy, it feel great,” Clark said.
Clark is averaging 4.6 points and 2.1 rebounds heading into Saturday’s 10:30 a.m. Class 1A state title game. But more often than not, his contribution is something that doesn’t show up in a stat line. Whether it is in the Braves’ press or half court pressure, Clark is all arms and legs getting into passing lanes and disrupting opposing defenses.
And, much like Lindsey, his enthusiasm and grin are contagious in the big moments. Clark’s intensity is fun to watch whether you are a teammates, a fan or casual spectator. In Bounce’s build of a perfect team, you absolutely need a guy like Clark, who will go out on his shield for the betterment of your team any given night. For an opponent, Clark is one of the last types of players you want to run into because there is little to nothing you can do to slow him down.
“We are very excited to play in the state championship game as any other athlete would be. We just try to stay poised and be ready to fight for a state championship,” Clark said. “I’ve been dreaming for this moment since I was a little kid to play in a state championship and my dream is finally coming true, I am just looking forward to it.”
SMALL TOWN COMMUNITY IN THE HEART OF THE CITY
The entire school packed themselves inside of the gym at Blackhawk Christian on Wednesday afternoon. A community supported send off for the Braves as they seek out their first ever basketball state title. Everyone that has anything to do with Blackhawk Christian turns out in one way or another like they are their own little small town off State Blvd.
“I know they are looking forward to it and they are behind us 100 percent and we appreciate that so much through the journey we have been through,” Clark said of the Blackhawk faithful.
Their crowds have been strong through the tournament, loud and with plenty of energy. That is thanks to how the school is, how the team draws in fans with their style of play and how you are pretty much a Brave for life if you have been one. More of that comes in how the school’s athletic program is run. Cotton came to the school in 2016 after coaching college basketball at Judson University. He beams with pride at every turn of this Braves season and seemed to be basking in the moment as much as the team as he MC’d Wednesday’s prep rally.
Former coach Gary Merrell, who led Blackhawk to their only other state finals appearance in 2004, was there Wednesday to share in the moment too, as he has been for many games on this state finals run. Merrell cracked some jokes about his team’s run 15 years ago and the differences between a regular game and one of the big floor for a state title.
“It is difficult,” Merrell said of making the state finals. “Actually, you guys made it look a lot easier than we did.”
Current head coach Marc Davidson has shown great appreciation for the past at Blackhawk Christian too. Merrell has been gone for five seasons when Davidson took over in 2013 after two years at Lakewood Park. Five of the program’s 12 Sectional titles have come under Davidson in his six seasons, expanding on the base that other coaches made.
“It is obviously very exciting for our community. It just makes me think of all of the people who have gone before me and laid the foundation here,” Davidson told Outside the Huddle.
“Men like Steve Longbrake and Jeff Cowatch, who is still on staff here, and men like Gary Merrell. I think about all of those guys who spent years laboring and toiling and investing into this place so we can be here where we are today. I am very thankful to be here and very proud of our guys.”
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