If stopping the Indian Creek boys basketball team were as simple as shutting down star guard Jared DeHart, opponents would likely have a higher success rate.
Doubling DeHart hasn’t really been an option for most teams, though, because the high-scoring senior is surrounded by a balanced group of teammates all capable of doing damage.
Six other Braves boast scoring averages of more than five points, and with any of those players a threat to erupt on a given night, it’s tough to key on any one person without leaving someone else open to do damage.
“They don’t know who specifically to focus on,” junior guard Zach Pugh said.
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“They can’t really put their best defender on one, because any of us can do it any night.”
The Braves, who carry an 11-5 record into today’s game at Whiteland, have been proving that over the course of the season.
Pugh erupted for 20 points in a win against Edgewood, while fellow junior Trevor Ankney had an 18-point outing against Oldenburg Academy. Just about anyone that steps onto the court is capable of filling it up.
“Any of us can hit the 3 ball, any of us can drive to the basket and score,” sophomore Xavier Ferris said. “I think all of us are threats.”
Having so many offensive weapons at his disposal gives Indian Creek coach Drew Glentzer plenty of options when devising game plans. He knows he can count on DeHart (22.9 points per game) to carry a good bit of the scoring load every night, but Glentzer might also choose to funnel the ball to a different secondary option depending on an opponent’s perceived weaknesses.
“Certain games, another kid might have a matchup that doesn’t overly favor him, and another kid does, and we try to exploit whatever matchup we can on that night,” Glentzer said.
“We know that their best defender will probably be on Jared, and then if there’s a certain person on somebody that they’re going to be the go-to guy,” junior Isaiah Lacey added. “Their worst post defender, we’re going to run a lot of plays at them to get whoever they’re guarding in the post, feed them a lot and keep feeding them until the other team makes adjustments.”
This hitting-you-from-every-angle approach is great in theory, but it couldn’t work if all of the players weren’t on board with it. In some cases, ego might prevent someone from being okay with taking 15 shots one night and just one or two the next.
Fortunately for Glentzer, everyone in the lineup has gotten on board with the idea of sharing the wealth. They’re willing to give up a little in terms of individual numbers for the greater good.
“Everybody comes together at the game,” junior Jace Russell said. “Everybody just wants to win, and they don’t really care how much they play.”
“We all have each other’s backs,” Ferris echoed. “When somebody goes in and they’re playing better than you, we understand. It’s just their night.”
That camaraderie gets tested a little bit in practices, where the players are constantly competing for a larger share of minutes.
Having so many talented options available means that nobody’s job is ever completely safe.
“It’s really intense,” Lacey said. “We know there’s plenty of talent out here and that every day is a competition for minutes. … We know that if we’re not playing how we should be, if we’re not playing hard or if we’re not producing, we know that somebody else is there to take our place.”
The balance is paying off for Glentzer, who isn’t forced to lean on any one member of the supporting cast every night. He looks at the point distribution as a puzzle that’s going to fit together differently from game to game.
“Jared’s going to get his 25-ish, and now we’ve got to figure out how to get 60,” the coach said. “So we’ve got to get 35 points out of everybody else.
“You piece the game together in that way.”
The Braves have made it fit pretty nicely most of the time.
The Indian Creek boys basketball team has gotten production from a number of sources this season. A look at the point distribution: