Road warriors no more

Indian Creek boys basketball coach Derek Perry is on the verge of making his most popular substitution of the season.

Blue uniforms, you’re out.

White uniforms, you’re in.

After nine consecutive road games to open the 2016-17 season, the road-weary Braves (6-3) play their home opener — finally — Saturday night against Brown County.

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“The kids were more excited about getting to play a home game than they were the trophy,” said Perry, referring to Indian Creek winning the Monrovia Holiday Classic for a third consecutive season Friday night.

“We’ve got Brown County coming in, and that’s always a big crowd. It will be nice not to leave right after school for a long bus ride.”

Indian Creek has played in seven different gymnasiums in six counties.

Drives ranged in distance from 14 miles one way (Edinburgh) to 63 miles (Oldenburg Academy). Three others — Owen Valley, Cloverdale and Edgewood — all covered between 40 and 50 miles one way.

The Braves did get to model the home white uniforms once this season — as the designated host team in last Thursday morning’s first-round victory over Greenwood Christian Academy at the Monrovia tournament.

Every other game has called for blue unis with the corresponding blue basketball shoes. Some Indian Creek players have experienced issues with the latter given the wear and tear of so many road games, according to Perry.

High school gymnasiums differ in terms of factors such as shooting backdrop, seating capacity and closeness of crowd.

There are obvious benefits to playing where you practice virtually every day.

“At first we were like, ‘Geez, we have to play our first nine games on the road’. Once the third or fourth game rolled around we started thinking it would be nice to play at home, too,” Braves senior guard Tim Abel said.

“It’s definitely different. Me, Bryce (Hogue), Jared (DeHart) and Trevor (Ankney), we’ve never played in some of those gyms before.”

Indian Creek is the newest member of the 12-school Western Indiana Conference, a league broken into East and West Divisions. Drives to the other five East schools are as brief as 19 miles (Brown County) and as long as 45 (Cloverdale).

While satisfied with his club’s accomplishments to date, Perry finds himself juggling what-ifs associated with losses at Oldenburg Academy, Edgewood and Martinsville.

“We got six out of nine, but all three losses were disappointing. I thought all three were games we could get,” Perry said. “Seven different gyms makes it a little tough, but it’s got to make us better for the (postseason) tournament.”

On Jan. 27, Indian Creek will wear specially designed white uniforms with NHJ (Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson) on the front of each jersey. Braves players will also don purple Morgantown T-shirts complete with the Trojans logo during pregame and halftime.

Paying tribute to the three schools that consolidated to make Indian Creek 50 years ago continues during home games Feb.10 (Trafalgar Redbirds) and Feb. 17 (Nineveh Eagles).

The Braves could find themselves wearing the road blues during the upcoming Johnson County Tournament. Beyond that, Indian Creek’s next road tests are the final two regular-season games against Greenwood (Feb. 21) and Greenwood Christian Academy (Feb. 24).

At this point, Abel isn’t blue about not wearing blue.

Laughing, he said, “I’m tired of seeing them.”

Indian Creek pullout

HOME STRETCH

The majority of Indian Creek’s remaining games will be played on the Braves’ home court:

Saturday: Brown County, 7:30 p.m.

January 10: Johnson County Tournament (first-round pairings yet to be determined)

January 21: Cascade, 7:30 p.m.

January 27: Western Indiana Conference playoffs

January 30: Greensburg, 7:30 p.m.

February 2: Whiteland, 7:30 p.m.

February 10: Indianapolis Herron, 7:30 p.m.

February 11: Culver Academy, 11 a.m. (at Hoosier Gym)

February 17: Central Christian, 7:30 p.m.

February 18: Hauser, 7:30 p.m.

February 21: at Greenwood, 7:30 p.m.

February 24: at Greenwood Christian Academy, 7:30 p.m.

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Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.