As part of our preview countdown, Outside the Huddle usually talks about players returning and those who have graduated.
When it comes to Blackhawk Christian, it’s impossible not to focus on who is no longer around.
We lost Marc Davidson to cancer last year, a man of great stature literally and figuratively. He meant a lot of things to a lot of people, and watching cancer do its terrible thing to such a vibrant and loving person was devastating.
The Blackhawk Christian coach powered through last season as his health failed him. The Braves won a sectional championship in early March and fell in the regional final one week later. Barely four weeks after, Davidson officially stepped down from his duties at the school. Less than a month after that, he was gone.
It was a trying season for all involved last year. Yet despite everything, Blackhawk Christian still went 23-5, eclipsing 20-plus wins for the fifth-straight campaign.
Taking over the program is Matt Roth, the Davidson acolyte and former Indiana Hoosiers standout who has close ties with the Blackhawk Christian community. While their are pieces to replace, Roth has visions of continuing where Davidson left off.
Expected to lead the way are a pair of seniors – Gage Sefton and Josh Furst. The 6-foot-4 Sefton averaged 18.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists as a junior, while Furst was close to a double-double a season ago at 15.5 points and 9.1 rebounds.
Not to be forgotten is another senior – Jimmy Davidson, who was a machine in terms of the intangibles a year ago in averaging 6.4 points, 10 rebounds and 5.5 assists a contest last year. Davidson is expected to be a bigger contributor in the scoring department with the loss of two guys who averaged double digits.
Lewis Jones (11.7 ppg, 2.7 apg) and Jake Boyer (9.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg) leave voids on both ends of the floor for Coach Roth’s squad. The expectation is that sophomore Kellen Pickett (1.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg) and junior Isaac Smith (0.9 ppg) are ready to take the next step.
Roth also has more in the pipeline in terms of young players who could be ready for greater roles, but the trio of Sefton, Furst and Davidson will be the guys at the tip of the spear for the Braves.
Do not expect Coach Roth to change much as he takes over the program. This is still a Class 2A power that is not going to shy away from tackling challenges ranging from games against the SAC to traveling to North Daviess and Trine University for tournaments.
Blackhawk Christian has become a stalwart as one of the top basketball programs regardless of class in northeast Indiana. What Coach Marc Davidson was able to build with the Braves was exceptional. Coach Roth should have no problem continuing that legacy, particularly with a senior group that is laden with talent and experience.
WHY NOT HIGHER?
Coach Roth has been hyping his “up and coming youth” but a lot of it has not produced at the varsity level…yet. If everything develops as the Braves hope, this should be another 20-win team and one of the toughest squads in the area. But if the youngsters do not come along as quickly as needed, the growing pains may be a bit more long-lasting.
Nov. 29 vs. North Side
The opening game as the crucial contest? Well, when you’re renaming your court after the late Coach Davidson, it immediately goes to the forefront.
Marc Davidson Court will be dedicated prior to the season tip-off against the Legends, adding all sorts of emotion to Game No. 1 of the Matt Roth era.
And when the game starts, it will pit two of the top teams in the area as we see it in the preseason.
Don’t miss this one.
Jimmy Davidson, senior
Much like his older brothers before him, much is expected from Davidson as a senior as he will be looked upon to run the offense.
Davidson does not necessarily need to be a scoring machine for the Braves, but rather be that floor general that can command his team on the floor as an extension of Coach Roth. This team has guys who can fill the bucket, Davidson needs to do some of that, but also continue his assault in other categories like he did last year with his court vision and his knack for mixing it up around the bucket.