SHOOTER: Why I’m thankful — the ABC’s of Blackhawk Christian
I had to take a minute after Tuesday night’s 83-41 destruction by Blackhawk Christian. What to take from it? Is Liberty Christian that bad? Is Blackhawk Christian that good?
Shooter really needed a couple of days to sleep on it, let it churn around in his green belly. But then it came to me. Good or bad doesn’t matter. Shooter is just thankful. So why not use Blackhawk Christian’s season opener as the topic for my annual Thanksgiving Day column. Sure, I usually talk about all of the things that Shooter is thankful for across the landscape of high school basketball, but this year I wanted to do something different. This year, I want to tell you all of the reasons that I am thankful for Blackhawk Christian.
As luck may have it, there are 26 of them. And, simply out of coincidence, they fall in alphabetical order:
A is for Class A. The Braves are ranked number eight in the opening Associated Press poll of the season. After the decimation of Liberty Christian, maybe they will be taken even more seriously as a threat to win a state title.
B is for bench. After injury disasters a year ago, the Braves bench is now deep — nine deep in the first game, keeping guys fresh throughout.
C is for Caleb. The freshman named Furst has a ton of hype. Flashes of freshman nervousness and potential future greatness both stuck out in his first game. Time is on his side as he continues to grow physically and mentally.
D is for Davidson. A family that has become as much part of Blackhawk Christian as anyone or anything. Coach Marc, his sons Frankie and now freshman Marcus keep the tradition alive that older brothers Will and Wes began.
E is for early exit. Last season was the first without a Sectional title in Marc Davidson’s four years at the helm of the program. And on some level, that early exit at the hands of Lakewood Park has to haunt the Braves. They get their first taste of revenge when the schools square off on January 19. And they may get a chance to eliminate the Panthers themselves come playoff time.
F is for Frankie. Davidson has expanded his game, his size and his range and came out clicking on all cylinders in Tuesday’s opener. Never before has Shooter seen a Frankie Davidson like this. He shoots the ball so beautifully, he works hard for rebounds (he led the team in those in the opener with nine) and he dunks. Yes, Frankie Davidson dunks. All on his way to 29 points in the opening act of his junior season.
G is for guards. As much publicity as we all give the power duo (eventually trio) of bigs, the Braves are loaded with guards. Juniors Michael Pulver and Landin Jacquay added good minutes against Liberty Christian and allow the Braves to stretch the floor even more.
H is for hair. Like all of the hair that majestically flows from the head of senior Devin Donaldson. It is glorious.
I is for injury bug. Don’t even get Shooter started. If I find this bug, I am going to snack on it like I am dining on a fine Ossian cricket. Shooter blames himself for last season when the injury bug hit Blackhawk hard. I am, after all, the only area prep hoops writer that actively devours bugs. I should have been there to stop it. Not this year bug, not this year.
J is for January. That is when the Braves add their tallest player, transfer Jared Hofer, who will give them three of the tallest players in the area on their roster.
K is for knockdown. Frankie Davidson hit seven threes in the season opener, Donaldson drained four. As many weapons as Blackhawk Christian has this year, this may be the most lethal.
L is for leader. That man is Jalan Mull. He is a leader on multiple levels. He leads as a point guard, passing for 13 assists in the season opener. He leads as a senior, alongside Drake Thompson, Luke Sassmannshausen and Donaldson. And oh yeah, he led the state in assists last year. After a not-so-shabby start to this season, he may be in line to do that again.
M is for man-to-man. Blackhawk Christian is going to press you. And sure, they may throw some traps your way, but on defense they are really going to challenge you because of the coaching staff’s confidence in their individual defenders. Don’t handle that man-to-man defense right? Mull is probably going to strip the ball from you like he did eight times against Liberty Christian.
N is for North Daviess. Instead of competing in the Huntington North/Columbia City tournament again this year over the holidays, the Braves test themselves by making the three and a half hour trek to the North Daviess Tournament for a game with Pike Central that could turn into games with teams like Class A #15 Loogootee and Class 3A #6 Brownstown Central.
O is for one hundred. Tuesday’s season opening win was the one hundredth of coach Marc Davidson’s Indiana high school coaching career.
P is for the post. Yes, this is far from the only place when Shooter outbursts about dominance we could be in store for. But, just think about. Thompson, Furst, Hofer and Kyle Zurbuch at Sectional time. Come at me 1A schools with 150 kids in your entire building.
Q is for quiet. It is perhaps the thing I like most about how coach Marc Davidson conducts himself. He’s not over the top, he’s not brash or braggadocios. When it is time to put in work, Davidson pushes forward and does it. And quietly, he has become one of the area’s top head coaches.
R is for regular season. Blackhawk Christian always schedules a tough slate of games. Their sagarin rating is the 141st best in the state, with only six teams in Class 1A ranked ahead of them. Their strength of schedule is 176th toughest in the state out of over 400 teams.
S is for Sassmannshausen. Senior Luke has long been a staple of this program. And he has the best last name in all of area prep hoops even if you have to buy a lot of vowels to spell it.
T is for Thompson. Drake returns after an injury finished his junior year so early. It may take him a few games to find his form, but if Thompson decides to be aggressive, he will be difficult for a lot of teams to stop.
U is for under pressure. The number two team in news-sentinel.com’s power poll, there are a lot of expectations for the Braves. How do they handle it? How much pressure do they put on themselves? That is likely the key in to how far Blackhawk Christian can go.
V is for visitor. When putting together a schedule, road games can challenge a team the most. Blackhawk Christian will play 10 road games, not counting the North Daviees tournament. But what really tests them? Four of those 10 visiting contests are their next four with trips to SAC favorite North Side, NE8 favorite New Haven, ACAC favorite Woodlan and to face Elkhart Christian at Grace College.
W is for win. Like winning the Summit Athletic Conference, something that the Braves technically can’t do. But with nine SAC opponents on their schedule this year of 10 conference teams, Shooter likes Blackhawk Christian’s chances of having the best conference record IF they were actually in the conference.
X is for Marc Davidson’s X’s and O’s. His play calling is often on point and he has done a great job in creating for his players with what he draws up.
Y is for youth. While the senior class was built up as a youth movement to be strong this year, the Braves are quietly building things on the junior varsity level too. Three freshman, Marcus Davidson, Braden Hicks and Andrew McIntosh are all contributors on the JV level, waiting in the wings for their shot.
Z is for Zurbuch, last year’s unlikely boost on the inside. He will give great minutes to this team and ad versatility to their post unit.
For more on prep hoops, follow Shooter on Twitter at shooter_ns