Southwood is ‘here for a reason’ and it has a lot to do with the Knights’ balanced offense
INDIANAPOLIS – You have to give credit where and when credit is due, and in the case of the Blackhawk Christian’s basketball team, it did exactly what it wanted to do against Southwood High School senior guard Carson Blair in Saturday’s IHSAA Class A Semistate at Huntington North.
Blair is the all-time leading scorer in Wabash County history, but the Braves hounded him into missing 10 of his 12 shots (including all six of his 3-pointers), as he finished with a season-low five points.
The game plan was perfectly executed by the No. 1-ranked Blackhawk squad, now, if only the Braves would have actually won the game, THEN that would have made it even more impressive.
Southwood moved onto Saturday’s IHSAA State Finals with a 55-53 win over Blackhawk for a couple of reasons:
• The Knights defended the Braves into their second-worst offensive performance of the season, but just as importantly
• Southwood doesn’t require Blair to be phenomenal offensively in order to win. In fact, he can play poorly and the Knights will be just fine.
“That Blackhawk win really showed the progress that we’ve made,” veteran Southwood coach John Burrus said, “we didn’t shoot it real well, but we still won.
“These guys have been on an incredible journey as a group together.”
The Knights (25-3) will face Morristown (27-2) for the Class A state championship Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (10:30 a.m., Fox Sports Indiana) and they’ll do so, in part, because they are an unusually balanced offensive team.
“You just don’t see that very often,” Burrus said of his team, “You don’t see where one class has three 1,000-point scorers.”
The Southwood senior class features Blair (17.8 points per game), whose offensive exploits in both basketball and football are legendary in these parts, but also Matt Nose (13.3) and Peyton Trexler (a team-high 19.7), both of whom can score prolifically, as well.
Oh, and by the way, it was junior forward Dallas Holmes (17.1) who sank 23 points, including the game-winner, for Southwood against the Braves.
All four players will finish their careers with over 1,000 points scored.
“It’s something that says a lot about Carson Blair,” Burrus said. “Usually you hear about a guy that is that type of scorer and it’s ‘Well, the other guys just feed him the ball.’ Carson makes sure those other guys are involved. He’s not even our leading scorer this year. That shows how this team operates.”
How Southwood “operates” is selflessly, efficiently, and almost always successfully.
Blair has led the Knights in scoring 11 times this season, while Trexler 10. However, both Holmes (six) and Nose (twice) are also capable of producing offensively.
Think about this statistic: Nose is his team’s fourth leading scorer, but has scored at least 20 points four times this year.
“Our big thing is being connected,” Burrus said. “Everybody is connected. When one guy scores, it’s because of a couple of passes. It’s because somebody chased down an offensive rebound.
“You’ll always see our kids willing to make the extra pass to the open man. It’s just something we do.”
The Knights have averaged 14 assists per game this season, but have had as many as 30 in a single game.
Southwood is the fourth-most productive offensive team in the entire state (77.39 points per game), but its success has been two-fold due to also playing a stifling defense.
The Knights held Blackhawk to 21 points below its season average to compensate for its torrid shooting.
Blackhawk shut down Blair and held Southwood (normally a 52 percent shooting team) to just 32 percent overall and 22 percent from 3-point range. However, Nose chipped in nine points and five boards, Trexler added 16 points and three steals, while Holmes pulled down eight rebounds against a Blackhawk front line of 6-foot-9, 6-foot-8, 6-foot-6 to go with his 23 points.
“Obviously, Southwood is very good,” Morristown coach Scott McClelland told News-Sentinel.com. “They have four guys that score in double figures and they are here for a reason.”
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