Anybody making predictions back in November about which Johnson County boys basketball team was going to be the last one standing this season would’ve looked rather foolish at the time picking Indian Creek.
Heck, after opening the season with a 70-34 home loss to Franklin and a 10-point setback at Edinburgh, Braves coach Drew Glentzer probably wouldn’t have bet on his own team.
“We’d have gotten beat by anybody at that time,” he said.
But momentum can shift more than once over the course of a long season, and Indian Creek is trending upward at the right time, beating host Northview and South Vermillion on back-to-back nights last weekend to claim its first sectional championship since 2000 — and its first as a Class 3A school.
On Saturday, the Braves (14-8) will try to win a regional title for the first time in 40 years when they travel to Lebanon to face longtime nemesis Beech Grove — a school that eliminated them from three straight sectionals between 2019 and 2021.
The Hornets (16-6) are one of the top 10 3A teams in the state according to the Sagarin ratings, ranked 57th overall while Indian Creek sits at 217th even after its sectional success. Glentzer and his squad, though, don’t plan on backing down.
“They are ranked higher than us, but that doesn’t mean anything,” junior guard Trent Volz said. “We’ve always been the underdog, all of our years of playing basketball … so that doesn’t scare us.”
Indian Creek has bounced back from low points more than once this season. After those early losses to the Grizzly Cubs and Lancers, it leapt right into Western Indiana Conference play and won five straight games, including three on the road. The Braves responded to a county tournament loss at Whiteland by winning at WIC foe Northview for the first time.
The lowest point of the season came a little more than a month ago, when Creek capped off a three-game losing streak by getting throttled on its home floor by Greenwood Christian, 63-28. Glentzer viewed that game as a bit of an outlier — “I don’t know what happened,” he said — but it seemed to shock the team back into place.
The Braves have won five of six since, starting with a big 50-49 home win over Sullivan that effectively clinched their first WIC championship.
“It definitely made us focus on what we needed to work on,” senior Aiden Pemberton said of the GCA debacle. “We definitely went into that game thinking we were going to possibly beat them by a good amount, but we didn’t show up.”
Glentzer has been impressed with how his team has evolved over the course of the season, particularly on offense, where what started out as a heliocentric attack revolving around sophomore Landon Sichting has become a bit more balanced. Sichting still averages a team-high 18.2 points, but he’s gotten better at using the attention he draws to create open looks for his teammates — and they, in turn, have responded.
“We are much better in terms of, when people go to double-team Landon, we’ve got an answer for that,” Glentzer said. “Early in the year, I think Landon was forcing his shot instead of throwing it out of that double, and now we’ve learned to play together, and I think we’re doing a lot better things.”
It’s been a wild ride at times — winless against county opponents, unbeaten against conference foes — but the Braves are still chugging along. And sure, they’ll head into Saturday as a heavy underdog, but Glentzer isn’t counting his guys out.
“One game’s one game,” he said. “There’s a whole bunch of teams that should be playing that are not playing, and that’ll be the same thing said about the semistate. There’s going to be somebody playing in front of somebody that should be playing.”
Might as well be Indian Creek.
IF YOU GO
Class 3A Lebanon Regional
Who: Beech Grove (16-6) vs. Indian Creek (14-8)
When: Saturday, 4 p.m.
Admission: $10 (children 5 and under free)