The Braves are back and ready to defend their Class 2A state title.
Pro: Marc Davidson is back on the sideline and the Blackhawk Christian coach breathes success.
Con: Nobody ever wants to replace a Mr. Basketball.
That is what the Braves face this season, a dynasty built on the very best players in the area, like four straight Northeast Indiana Player of the Year winners, that now has a talented core but perhaps lacking that star that they’ve had for a long time. It has Blackhawk Christian still in the driver’s seat for most of their season but with some question marks along the way.
Leading the small core of returners is Jacob Boyer, the senior forward that has seen the most in the program, even picking up some sparing minutes on 2019’s Class 1A state title team as a freshman. Boyer’s presence and leadership is critical to the Braves sustaining success this season. He averaged eight points and six rebounds per game last year.
Gage Sefton slid pretty smoothly into Blackhawk Christian’s lineup last season and is the other significant returner for the program. The junior wing averaged 7 points and 3 rebounds last season and made some critical plays in the state title game.
Returning too will be senior Lewis Jones (4 ppg), who was a move in last season and junior Josh Furst, who was used in a deeper reserve role last season. Both Jones and Furst bring some of the versatility and length that Blackhawk Christian will hang their hats on as they battle to control physical aspects of the game.
The Braves will add a bevy of positions from every class to make up their potentially strong depth. Clay Pickett joins the senior class, while Victor Hoya and Jimmy Davidson will be juniors that should see time. Davidson, as you can tell by name, knows this program inside and out. Sharpshooting Isaac Smith joins the program after hitting 128 three pointers at a 45 percent success rate last year as a freshman for the Fort Wayne Hawks home school team. Freshman Kellen Pickett is also expected to see some time.
This is Blackhawk Christian. They are a few baskets and Covid away from possibly being four time defending state champions. That is what we call domination. Coach Marc Davidson has led this team to four straight 23-plus win seasons and winning seasons in all eight of his time with the program.
Right now, Blackhawk Christian is one of the standard bearers in the area and a benchmark for success.
That means that beating the Braves is still a major goal of everyone on their schedule, even if this team sees some heavy turnover from last year’s Class 2A state title team. Blackhawk Christian is here because they have a lot talent back and a tremendous reputation.
WHY NOT HIGHER?
This is a no brainer. There are many questions about Blackhawk Christian when they have to replace so many pieces that meant so much for so long. The loss of Zane Burke, Marcus Davidson and Mr. Basketball Caleb Furst marks a big separation from the three years of domination that led to two, should have been three, state titles.
So can the guys that have been part of that in significant ways like Jacob Boyer and Gage Sefton help bridge the gap. Can those guys emphasize the importance of the legacy that Blackhawk Christian developed. All signs point to yes, but until we see this very different incarnation of Braves basketball on the court, we have to wonder.
November 30 at North Side
This has been a game that Blackhawk Christian has owned in recent years. The last three years have seen Blackhawk Christian win this matchup by an average of 49.7 points per year. That isn’t one blowout either, that is three consecutive and consistent blowouts.
But just as graduation and transfer once riddled North Side in this matchup, graduation has Blackhawk Christian on the rebuild now too while North Side could be peaking with their top three classes really changing that program again.
This is game one for the Braves coming days after North Side opens with a tough Lawrence North challenge. Who is Blackhawk Christian right now? We may not know but after this one, we’ll have a bit of an idea.
Josh Furst, junior
Furst has two things to live up to: Blackhawk has had really quality posts for the past 7-8 years and his last name is Furst. He should ignore both of those pressures, because playing as his own man, Furst has looked excellent with the Braves varsity, JV and during the summer.
He is a powerful kid who can really assert himself around the rim. We know Blackhawk can again shoot the ball really well so it will be interesting to see how Furst can help them control the glass too.