One of these days, Bounce is going to learn his lesson. But I am going to need everyone else to follow suit too.
There seems to be a relied upon response, especially in the preseason, to think that a team that loses a lot player wise after a high level of success is going to automatically take significant steps backwards. Bounce has done it in the past with the Homestead boys, just this season with the Carroll girls and now, I’ve put my webbed foot in my mouth about the Blackhawk Christian boys basketball team.
Sure, we had them ranked #5 in the preseason. But in my first two game picks of the Braves’ season, I picked against them. It was the fear of the unknown. There is no Caleb Furst, there is no Zane Burke…but I should have known better because this team isn’t unknown and the culture certainly has not taken a single step backwards.
The Braves, instead, have gone 2-0 with quality wins over North Side and New Haven this past week and have opened my eyes and now my mouth to the most important thing we’ve heard as a tagline for other schools and programs: culture doesn’t graduate. Instead, culture can really permeate through a program with the right coach and right players in place. Admittedly, it takes a special place and a special coach to do that. It doesn’t always just permeate because of success, trophies or individual titles. Blackhawk Christian is a special place.
It is a special place in a very large part thanks to coach Marc Davidson. He has established a way of going about life and basketball at Blackhawk Christian that has always been truly unique to view from the outside.
So imagine how special it is on the inside where Davidson and his staff can mold their culture daily.
It hasn’t mattered who comes and goes for the Braves in the past half decade and then some. We are looking at a program that was an off-day semi state game (combined with a Frankie Davidson illness) and a Covid shortened season away from being four time defending state champions right now. Still, they have two state titles in that four year span. As they have built to that in the seasons leading up to Caleb Furst’s debut and through his Mr. Basketball season in 2020-21, Blackhawk Christian has become a constant. There was no reason to question if they would continue to be a constant or not despite the fact that I, and others, had questions.
In the win over North Side on Tuesday, the Braves showed significant poise in the chaotic pace that the Legends pushed. Late in the game when North Side was pulling out all of the stops, the Braves didn’t waiver. They have guys who have been through some rigors – Jacob Boyer has two state titles with this team, Gage Sefton played a quality role on last year’s title team and guys like Josh Furst and Jimmy Davidson have heavy family lineages that has seen them be part of the program years before they played in it – but that doesn’t mean they have had to handle the heavy pressures themselves. But they did handle it.
Those guys, among others, played like seasoned vets in the crunch time against North Side. It was an eye opening watch for yours truly. Furst had 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Sefton, Boyer and Lewis Jones all scored in double figures and Davidson was just shy of a double double with eight points and 11 rebounds.
So I defy anyone to watch that game in a bubble with no other knowledge and tell me that this team isn’t seasoned.
They are seasoned in large part due to expectations.
Built on coach Davidson, his now five sons that have played varsity basketball for the school and other big time players like Jalan Mull, current assistant coach Joey Morlan, Caleb Furst and so many more, this program has high expectations. And to take a drop down from that is not something that the current roster has any intention of doing. They aren’t going to be the ones to have a letdown season. Instead, they have charged full steam ahead and quickly fought their way into our high end mental collective again. Blackhawk Christian doesn’t change because the type of kids they have either A) don’t change or B) understand the assignment in front of them and grow into the type of young men that can handle the pressures of highly touted culture.
On Friday night, they stayed on the road in front of an always tough New Haven crowd and looked even better. Sefton had 24 points while Boyer, Furst and Lewis all scored in double figures again as the Braves handled one of the top teams in the Northeast 8 Conference. The Braves controlled the energy from very early on in the game. They established the pace and they never let up even as New Haven made energetic and enthusiastic pushes. Sefton attacked hard and Furst looked smooth on the inside as he controlled his space. Once the Braves were rolling, the Bulldogs didn’t even seem to know what hit them.
It is almost like I wasn’t the only one with differing expectations for the Braves this season.
Shame on us all for that.
The culture at Blackhawk Christian has always been impressive. When you walk into Marc Davidson’s gym, something just feels different.
This year’s team has reminded me quickly that culture has permeated, that culture is respected and continues to grow. We’ve never counted Blackhawk Christian out, but don’t you even dare count them down either.
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