Hot starts are nothing new for the Indian Creek boys basketball team.
At least, that’s been the trend under fifth-year coach Derek Perry, whose team again is off to a hot start heading into the Christmas holiday.
The Braves, 18-7 before Christmas under Perry, already are 4-0 this season and are bidding for their first sectional title since 2000.
The slippery slope, Perry acknowledges, is maintaining momentum through a regular-season slate during which everything from fatigue to turned ankles to weather-
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Indian Creek plays its next four games away from home starting with Friday’s test at Class 4A Martinsville, an opponent the Class 3A Braves haven’t defeated since early in the 2006-07 season.
It becomes even more difficult after that.
“We’re going to start our toughest stretch here, and it’s going to be a good measuring stick for us,” Perry said.
Class 3A state champion) Greensburg is undefeated. Danville has lost just once, and Martinsville is 3-2.”
These Braves won’t soon be confused with last year’s squad — for many reasons.
Junior swingman Cameron Smith transferred to Franklin Community High School, while former Grizzly Cubs guards Dylan Phair and Spencer Wood transferred to Indian Creek for their senior seasons.
At an even 6-foot, Phair has been all over the court in new surroundings, as evidenced by per game averages of 14.5 points, a team-high 6.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
Wood, meanwhile, averages 11.5 points, 5.0 boards and 5.8 assists per game.
Mesh this duo with talented 6-2 sophomore swingman Tim Abel (18.5 ppg, 4 rpg) and super sub Jared DeHart, a 5-8 freshman guard (14.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3 apg), and the Braves are equipped to attack defenses in a variety of ways.
Abel is coming off a monster weekend in which he dropped 30 points on Greenwood Christian Academy on Friday and 23 the following evening in Indian Creek’s 57-47 conquest of Knightstown.
Indian Creek’s other starters are 6-2 senior Bryce Hogue (6.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and 6-foot junior Tyler Parks (4.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg). Another key player has been 6-6 senior Braxton Zachery, who averages 3.8 points and six rebounds off the bench.
“We’ve got four or five new kids, and we’ve still been able to have good chemistry,” said Perry, referring primarily to Phair, Wood, high school newcomer DeHart and Zachery, who is out for basketball for the first time since his freshman year (2011-12). “The kids that had been here really accepted them.”
A player the Braves are anxious to welcome back to the court is 6-3 junior Gynson Robley, who has been unable to play due to a torn labrum suffered in Indian Creek’s 28-27 sectional football loss to Hamilton Heights on Oct. 24. He was the team’s starting quarterback.
Perry is hopeful Robley, who averaged eight points and six rebounds during the 2013-14 season, returns by the time Indian Creek partakes in the four-team holiday tournament Dec. 30 at Monrovia.
Robley’s return will no doubt make Perry’s team that much deeper.
“With all the new faces, everyone really just had to find their niche in the system. Mine is rebounding, Tim Abel’s and Dylan Phair’s are to score. We just all need to do what we do best,” Zachery said. “Everyone on the team are great friends, too. Nobody has a problem with anyone.
“We really just need to keep working hard and meshing as a team.”
Zachery will get no argument from his coach, who so far loves the way the Braves are conducting business — which is in contrast to last year’s uncharacteristic 1-6 start, although they won 8 of their final 11 games.
“They’ve formed their own identity that they’re going to play hard, show emotion and play as a team,” Perry said. “They just need to keep working, because our players know we have the potential to do some things this year.”
OTHER FAST STARTS
This Indian Creek team isn’t breaking new ground when it comes to building early-season momentum:
2012-13: Started 5-0, finished 10-11
2011-12: Started 4-0, finished 13-9
2002-03: Started 7-3, finished 13-9
1999-2000: Started 5-2, finished 14-10*
1998-1999: Started 5-2, finished 15-7
*Class 2A sectional champion