PREP HOOPS: Blackhawk Christian is tops in Class A, but the Braves don’t want to hear it
Imagine being a high school point guard crossing half court and examining your options.
You can either take it to the basket or find a teammate in a better scoring position.
Now imagine that your passing options include a standout post in 6-foot-8 senior Drake Thompson, a junior forward with an outside touch in Frank Davidson, an outside shooting ace in senior Luke Sassmannshausen and one of the state’s best freshmen in 6-9 Caleb Furst.
And that doesn’t include one of the deeper benches in the area.
That’s the scenario that Blackhawk Christian senior Jalan Mull faces each and every time he brings the ball up the floor. As the point guard on the state’s top-ranked Class A team, Mull has no shortage of hoops talent around him.
Is it tough making decisions with the basketball?
“I would say it’s more fun than tough,” Mull says.
There has been plenty of fun to be had through the first two months of the season for the Braves, who head into a weekend game at Lakewood Park with a 13-1 record.
It was a much different story a year ago at this time. After ascending to the No. 1 ranking in the Class AP Poll for the first time in program history last December, injuries derailed Blackhawk’s season. First, Thompson suffered a season-ending injury. Then Lucas Kroft was lost to an ankle, followed by senior Kole Barkhaus going down with a broken arm.
The attrition was too much for the Braves, who finished 17-10.
But this year has been different. Blackhawk has stayed relatively healthy, and with nine seniors on the roster, there has been no absence of leadership.
“We try to maintain that emotional even keel,” said Coach Marc Davidson. “We don’t want them too high after a win and don’t want them too low after a loss. We want to keep them humble and hungry and I think they have bought into that.”
What makes the Braves so dangerous and so good is the fact that they can beat you in a variety of ways. Want to slow down the pace and limit possessions? Sure, Blackhawk can roll like that. Want to go up-tempo and try and beat the Braves up and down the floor? Davidson’s team can do that too.
“Some of our best games have been in practice,” Davidson said. “We have kids who can do a bunch of different things with the ball, and that really prepares us for the different looks we get in games.”
After a steep dive into the deep end of the pool that is varsity basketball, the freshman Furst has gotten progressively more comfortable. Whereas in November and December there was a touch of hesitation and uncertainty in his game, January has seen Furst assert himself more on the court.
“He is doing a better job of finishing through contact and being more aggressive,” Davidson said. “That’s just adjusting to a different level of size and strength. He is starting to understand that when he is aggressive he is pretty hard to handle.”
Perhaps the greatest attribute this Blackhawk team has is its modesty. Yes, this squad is ranked as the best team in its class. Do they care? Not really.
“My dad used to say that the No. 1 ranking plus 50 cents can get you a can of Coke,” Davidson said. “We don’t put any stock in that stuff.”
That unassuming attitude starts with Thompson.
“Drake emotionally is as steady as can be,” Davidson said. “Nothing fazes him. I love that in a player and I love that in a team and I think he really sets the tone in that area. Everybody else feeds off of him.”
Seems to be a lot of feasting by the Braves these days. If that continues, Davidson’s team could be feeding its way all the way to Indianapolis come March.