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The Journal Gazette

  • Mike Moore Blackhawk Christian guard Michael Pulver drives down the court guarded by South Side guard Austin Jordan during the Braves' 54-50 win over South Side on Feb. 19. 

  • Rachel Von  Frank Davidson dribbles past a defender during Blackhawk's 98-44 win over North Side on Nov. 27. 

  • Mike Moore  Blackhawk Christian's Caleb Furst puts up a shot against South Side in a 54-50 win on Feb. 19. 

Friday, March 15, 2019 1:00 am

Braves sticking to game plan ahead of semistate

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

Class A semistate

Blackhawk Christian (26-2) vs. Lafayette Central Catholic (24-4)

Where: North Side Gym, Elkhart

When: 4 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $10

Radio: 1380 AM/100.9 FM, 1250 AM, 107.3

Streaming: www.summitcitysports.com

A win Saturday would give Blackhawk Christian its second semistate title in program history, but the Braves say they are approaching this week of preparation like any other.

“We try to stick to our routine, and so we do our lifting like we normally would, we do our practice times like we normally would,” Blackhawk Christian coach Marc Davidson said at practice Wednesday.

“We try to give them one day where we rest the legs a little bit. And so from that standpoint it's going to be pretty similar. A little more film than usual, but our guys are focused and ready for Saturday.”

The top-ranked Braves (26-2), who were eliminated in the semistate round last season, will face No. 3 Lafayette Central Catholic (24-4) at Elkhart's North Side Gym on Saturday after beating Argos 77-39 in last weekend's regional final in Bourbon. Like the Braves, the Knights won their regional title game easily, beating North Vermillion 80-43.

The similarities don't stop there: Like Blackhawk Christian, Lafayette Central Catholic is a Class A school that has played – and beaten – numerous 3A and 4A schools. (The Knights have played 16 teams from the top two classes, beating 12 of them, while the Braves beat 12 of the 14 3A and 4A schools they played.)

The Knights score 67.25 points per game and have an average margin of victory of 17.57.

Blackhawk Christian leads IHSAA teams in both categories, averaging 80.14 points and winning games by an average of 26.18 points. 

“They run a lot of plays, so they're kind of like Homestead in that aspect,” sophomore forward Caleb Furst said, comparing the Knights to a Spartans squad that beat Blackhawk Christian 51-44 in early January. 

Junior guard Carson Barrett averages 14.5 points, 11.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists for the Knights, and senior shooting guard/small forward David Schwartz averages 14 points. Sophomore guard A.J. Bordenet averages just over 10 points. 

“They have a really good – we call him a point forward, he's a real good player,” Furst said, referring to Schwartz. “Obviously, you've got to be ready for him, but they're a great team, so you have to be ready for anyone.”

The Knights do have some size – Barrett is listed at 6-foot-5 and Schwartz at 6-3 – but no players who compare height-wise to 6-7 Frank Davidson or Furst, who is listed at 6-10. 

“They present some interesting matchups, and our guys have responded well to different types of matchups this year, so hopefully our guys respond to the challenge,” Marc Davidson said. 

Although the Braves led their regional championship game wire to wire, they faced a tougher test from Gary 21st Century in the semifinal, only pulling away in the final minutes to escape with a 65-57 victory.

Sophomore guard Marcus Davidson said that game highlighted the Braves' depth.

“It was big for us, because me and Trinity (Clark) both come off the bench, and we were both in for just about the whole second half,” Marcus Davidson said. “It was big for us to make sure that our bench players were staying in the rotation and keeping our confidence up.”

The 7,373-seat North Side Gymnasium was the largest high school gym in the country when it opened in 1954. It now ranks seventh.

Marcus Davidson said the Blackhawk Christian pep band will be making the trip to Elkhart with the team, which should add to an exciting playoff atmosphere. 

“The pep band really sets the environment, and that's really exciting,” Marcus Davidson said. “We didn't have that last year, and we haven't had that in a postseason game this year.

“So if I wasn't already on cloud nine for the game, the pep band took me to a whole new level.”

vjacobsen@jg.net