On the Brown County boys’ basketball schedule, an “L 48-75” entry appears on the line across from “Jan. 30 Indian Creek.”
Nothing could be more misleading. There is no way that anyone walked out of the Braves’ gym Friday night as anything but a winner, especially the boys from Nashville.
It was an Eagles team that made a great night even more special and reminded us again that the value of high school sports is measured in something far more impressive than points on a court.
By now, you might know the story of Indian Creek’s “Brave-strong” night. Spurred by the basketball team’s dedication of this season to four young blood cancer victims in the community, the school and area jumped on in support.
Story continues below gallery
A charity dinner, auction, raffle and ceremony framed the game against neighbor and rival Brown County. It seems all of the community showed up to pack the gym decked out in orange shirts supporting cancer awareness.
A touching ceremony awarded the four cancer patients — ninth-grader A.J. Underwood, eighth-grader Chase Smith, fifth-grader Zane Davidson and preschooler Grant Harding — baskets filled with sports-related gifts from the team.
Everyone wore orange in support. So did the Eagles.
As the visitors came out for pregame warmups, they were sporting the same orange shirts as the Braves, a profound statement that spoke volumes about how these two intense rivals respect one another on and off the court.
“I have a respect for Brown County now that is unreal for wearing those Bravestrong shirts with us,” said Indian Creek senior center Braxton Zachery, who has battled the Eagles throughout four years as a football and basketball player. “That is great for your rival to come out and do that.”
That feeling went both ways.
“We were happy to be a part of it,” first-year Brown County coach Chuck Hutchins said. “There are some things that are way more important than basketball. This was one of them. It was a special night for us too.”
Yes, and what was even more impressive happened after the game.
In what appeared to be a tossup on paper between the Class 3A teams with only four losses each, the Braves took the Eagles to the woodshed, exploding from an early second quarter deficit to the 27-point victory.
It was a stinging defeat for Brown County, especially in a fourth quarter where nothing went right for the visitors. It is safe to imagine that every player on that team wanted to head straight for the bus as the final horn sounded.
They did not.
Instead, those orange shirts went back on. And the Eagles joined their rivals at midcourt for one last group picture.
“We were all emotionally spent,” said Hutchins, who lives in Greenwood with his wife, Jaimie. “I was impressed with our kids. I know they were frustrated about the game. There were mature enough to realize that this is way bigger than basketball.”
You could tell who won from the looks on their faces, the Braves smiling after perhaps their most impressive game of the season; the Eagles stunned by what just happened.
But there they all were, gathered with arms around their neighbors, a collective group of teenagers celebrating their commitment to something bigger than a game.
“It was a special night,” Braves coach Derek Perry said. “Credit goes to Brown County for chipping in like that.”
Yes, in that special way that doing good for others often helps the giver as much as the recipient, something more important was remembered in Trafalgar on Friday night.
High school sporting events are often tremendous in their own right. Even at their best, though, what happens between the lines pales in comparison to what can transpire because of the stage they build. Communities can come together, awareness can be raised, spirits can be lifted.
That happened Friday night for four cancer victims and the communities in southwest Johnson and Brown counties that joined to help around a game.
“It turned into something very special for all of us,” Perry said.
Yes, coach, it did.
Check that scoreboard once again. In this game, there were no losers.