Blackhawk Christian has said goodbye to one of the most decorated senior classes in school history, a class that ended three straight seasons with a victory in a title game, claimed two state titles and included one Mr. Basketball winner.
The Braves have four new starters this season, but new-look Blackhawk Christian kicked off its next era with a 71-65 win at North Side (0-2) on Tuesday night.
The game was a back-and-forth and occasionally messy affair, as the Braves had 25 turnovers, but they outscored the Legends 24-16 in the fourth quarter.
“When we got into that crisis moment, these guys really came together. And that’s what we always tell them. There’s a tendency in a crisis moment to get selfish, and these guys do the exact opposite,” Braves coach Marc Davidson said. “They’re such great teammates, and in those kind of moments is when they stick together.”
Senior forward Jake Boyer is the only returning starter for the Braves and has been on the varsity squad for all four years of high school and started for three.
“The kid’s just a technically really good basketball player. He does everything well.,” Davidson said, joking that Boyer’s been a key part of the program for so long that it feels like he’s a college player given extra eligibility after the COVID season. “Defensively, he’s pretty much always where he’s supposed to be. Handles it well, shoots it well. Passes it well, makes good decisions. So we’re going to look to JB really to step up and be a leader for us this year.”
Boyer scored 14 points and had four rebounds and two assists in Blackhawk Christian’s 55-40 Class 2A state championship win over Parke Heritage last season. He played for years alongside Caleb Furst, who is already a key part of the Purdue rotation as a true freshman, and Indiana Basketball Coaches Association all-state honoree Zane Burke and all-state honorable mention Marcus Davidson. Now it’s finally Boyer’s turn to set the tone for younger players.
“Pretty much every situation I could be in, I’ve already experienced, whether I was on the court or on the bench, seeing it. And it’s been really helpful, because I’ve seen guys who know how to play the game, are skilled at the game, and play the game the right way,” Boyer said. “That’s helped me to grow in my development, and then helped me when it comes to leadership, to try to show that and be a role model for the younger guys.”
Junior Gage Sefton, who played almost 14 minutes and grabbed four rebounds in the state title game as a sophomore, scored 17 points against North Side on Tuesday.
“(He) has just got loads of talent. Very athletic, very skilled. Shoots the ball, handles it, rebounds it, passes it,” Davidson said. “We’re going to look to Gage, really, to step up and be assertive on the court this year.”
Boyer said junior Jimmy Davidson and senior Lewis Jones are adept at “knocking down shots and finding the open guy. They’ve just all really stepped up big time.” Meanwhile, Josh Furst scored 20 points and had 12 rebounds in his first-ever start against the Legends.
“He has to fill Caleb’s role, which is a big role. But he did a great job last night, 20 points and 12 rebounds, those are really good numbers, especially for his first starting varsity game,” Boyer said.
Although most of this year’s squad are starting or seeing significant playing time with the varsity team for the first time, many have been playing together and developing in the program for some time, and they’re ready to show off the skills they’ve been developing outside of the spotlight.
“Most of these guys have been around long enough that we know each other, we have that mutual respect. They know what the expectation is, and we know them enough to know what buttons to press to really get them to dial in and compete. And those guys do a great job of that,” Davidson said. “They say success breeds success, and that’s true when you have players that buy in. And these guys have really bought in to what is asked of them.”