Of the Indian Creek girls basketball team’s many qualities, experience isn’t one of them.
Two freshmen start. So do two sophomores.
The first player off the bench is a sophomore.
But youth hasn’t slowed the Braves.
As results reflect, it’s had the opposite effect.
Owners of the Mid-Hoosier Conference championship and a seven-game winning streak, the Braves are 17-4 heading into the postseason.
More importantly, they are among the favorites in a Class 3A sectional field they happen to host.
“We’re still a very young team,” Braves coach Dan Burkman said. “I’ve been really impressed with how they’ve come together and just how they’ve bonded and developed team chemistry over the year.
“The way I look at it, there are probably four teams that can win the sectional, and we’re one of them.”
Candace Danz, the Braves’ leading scorer and lone senior starter, agrees.
“We’re pretty strong. We’ve meshed perfectly as a team,” said Danz, a four-year starting guard. “That’s a good thing going into sectionals, to be playing as a team.
“I think our confidence is at an all-time high.”
Fueling the Braves’ optimism is the rare opportunity to host the sectional. They haven’t done that in eight years.
Although home-court advantage doesn’t guarantee a championship, the Braves certainly welcome it in a formidable field that includes three other teams with winning records: Ritter (17-5), defending champion Danville (17-7) and Beech Grove (13-10).
Indian Creek is 8-1 this season at home. Its only loss was against visiting Class 4A Whiteland.
The Braves play a first-round game tonight against Washington (4-12).
“We play so much better at home. One thing for sure, we shoot so much better at home than we do on the road,” said Burkman, whose team is bidding for its first sectional title since 2013. “I don’t know why that is, but statistically we are a much better team at home.”
Indian Creek also is a much better team than it was a year ago, when it took a 16-4 record into the sectional but lost its first game against Tri-West. Although the Braves’ record is nearly identical this time, they have the benefit of having played better down the stretch this year than last, and have matured quickly despite their youth.
Danz is a four-year starter, but sophomores Addie Rund and Celina McElroy also were starters last season. The pleasant surprises have been freshmen Caitlyn Snyder and Katie Burkman, freshmen starters who have played like veterans.
“We really didn’t expect Caitlyn Snyder and Katie Burkman to do as well as they have, but they’ve definitely flourished,” said Danz, who was a freshman the most recent time Indian Creek won a sectional.
“Yeah, we’re young, but we’re definitely prepared,” Danz said. “We haven’t been home (for the sectional) in like eight years. It’s great. I love it.
“It’ll be really nice to be able to cut down the nets at our own place.”
Nov. 4;at Brown County;(3A);W 63- 33
Nov. 7;Martinsville;(4A); W 65- 58
Nov. 13;Knightstown;(2A);W 54- 27
Nov. 14;at Monrovia;(2A);W 54- 34
Nov. 17;at Center Grove;(4A); L 54-42 tournament
Nov. 21;Edinburgh;(A);W 60- 46 tournament
Nov. 24;Beech Grove;(3A);W 59- 39
Nov. 28;at Eastern Hancock;(2A);W 64- 52
Dec. 1;Morristown;(A);W 71- 44
Dec. 5;at Covenant Christian;(2A);L 64-42
Dec. 8;at Hauser;(A);W 71- 61
Dec. 15;Whiteland;(4A);L 65-49
Dec. 22;at Greenwood;(4A);W 64- 58
Jan. 2;Brownsburg;(4A);L 48-28 tournament
Jan. 2;Batesville;(3A);W 69- 43 tournament
Jan. 6;at Edinburgh;(A);W 53- 37
Jan. 9;North Decatur;(2A);W 67- 62
Jan. 16;at Waldron;(A);W 64- 45
Jan. 22;Southwestern (Shelbyville);(A);W 68- 39
Jan. 28;Edgewood;(3A);W 49- 48
Jan. 30;at South Decatur;(A);7:30 pm
Today;Indianapolis Washington;(3A);7:30 pm sectional