A 28-2 season and the program’s first-ever state championship is still fresh in the minds of many around Blackhawk Christian.
While the memories remain, Coach Marc Davidson is trying to turn the page with a young but talented group entering 2019-20.
“This is the youngest team we have had here with just one senior (Jaylen Morris),” Davidson said. “But we also pretty experienced.
Leading scorer Frankie Davidson (21.0 ppg) has moved on, as well as guard Michael Pulver, who was exceptional off the ball and in the clutch last year for the Braves after returning from injury.
Secondary scorers Abe Hicks and Trinity Clark have also graduated.
But a trio of stud juniors are ready to continue their rise, led by Caleb Furst. The top 25 talent nationally in the Class of 2021 is another year older, stronger and wiser after a spring and summer of training. The 6-foot-10 forward averaged 18.7 points and 8.9 rebounds last season.
“Caleb just keeps getting better and his skills continue to improve,” Davidson said. “His biggest steps are the intangibles. He is a much more aggressive player. But we continue to challenge him. He has to play with a high level of intensity for 32 minutes.”
Junior Zane Burke (12.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg) was a deadly long-range weapon for Blackhawk Christian last year who could also finish around the hoop. Marcus Davidson shined at times on the state title team, averaging 8.7 points per contest.
Those three plus Callan Wood and Andrew McIntosh, both of whom came up late in the season from JV, give the Braves a loaded junior class.
“Wood and McIntosh are hard workers and willing to do anything on the floor for us,” Davidson said.
Sophomore Luke Lagrange, a transfer from Leo, will see some playing time as well as 6-3 sophomore Jacob Boyer, who Davidson says “had a really good fall” preparing for the season.
While Burke will be the primary ballhandler, Blackhawk Christian will once again have the luxury of having multiple players on the floor who can bring the ball up the floor and get the offense running. That aspect of the Braves’ game was deadly a season ago and should be just as difficult this season.
The schedule is once again beastly. The Braves will play four-star forward Trey Kaufman and Silver Creek at Southport in December as well as take part in a tournament at Noblesville right after Christmas and travel to Chicago for a game again on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January.
And of course, Blackhawk Christian plays the majority of the SAC.
“I love our schedule,” Davidson said. “It is bar none the toughest schedule we have put together.”
What carries over to this year from last year’s championship?
“We are a completely new team, but philosophically we haven’t changed,” Davidson said. “We are still as humble and hungry as we were at this time last year.”
A defending state champion with a good core back led by Caleb Furst? Yeah, there isn’t much to overthink here. Blackhawk Christian may have to rebuild a bit here and there, but it also has the talent and skill to be one of the best teams in the area again regardless of class.
WHY NOT HIGHER?
The supporting cast lost made a big impact on this team during their state run. Michael Pulver’s leadership and intangibles as well as Frankie Davidson’s baseline moves and finishing moves (read: dunks) at the rim.
So how do the newcomers into the starting lineup make up for those losses? There may be some missteps early, but the Braves should be a title contender again, this time in 2A.
JAN. 14 VS. HOMESTEAD
One of Blackhawk Christian’s two losses last season came at the hands of Homestead. Arguably the two best teams in the area entering this year, they will meet at Blackhawk in mid-January. Without a conference, it is tough to pinpoint one game for the Braves that is “crucial” in the regular season.
But in terms of hype, who doesn’t want to see Caleb Furst vs. Luke Goode?
CALEB FURST, JUNIOR
Blackhawk Christian has a very good supporting cast around Furst, but the Braves will be in the spotlight all season long because of their junior star. There are big games scattered throughout the schedule, many of which will be played in packed gyms as fans of both Indiana and Purdue look to get a glance at a recruit that their programs are chasing.
Furst’s success opens up opportunities for the other four players on the floor.