By GREG MENGELT
The Borden Braves have entered a week like they’ve never experienced.
Championship week brings a ton of distractions — people stopping the players at school and on the streets, guest speakers, miles and miles of travel back and forth between Borden and Indianapolis, pep rallies, piling up homework from time away from school, and of course, the pesky media.
Monday through Saturday is a whirlwind experience.
“I’m sure there will be [some distractions],” senior forward Michael Lynch admitted. “We’re just trying to keep our minds clear and focus. We have to handle it like state champions and bring our best basketball up to Indianapolis.”
The best way to handle it is to embrace it, Borden coach Doc Nash said.
“I told them to enjoy all of the distractions,” Nash said. “We’ve talked about enjoying the moment. There are a lot of teams in the state that would like to enjoy the opportunities we’re presented with this week.”
Of course, the Braves’ trip to the Class A state championship will be the first in school history. That alone could be a disadvantage. The good news is Borden’s roster features experienced veterans who have learned to handle anything that comes their way, whether it’s the Triton Trojans or well-meaning well-wishers.
“I think we’re a mature group,” senior guard Billy Kirchgessner said. “I really don’t see [the distractions] affecting us.”
“We’ve had distractions ever since we won the sectional, going into regional week,” McCoy said.
“We’re a close team,” senior Cody Bachman added. “We don’t have too many outside distractions. At the end of the week, we’re basically going to be isolated from the rest of the school and on our own, so there won’t be many distractions.”
The Braves traveled up to Indianapolis Wednesday afternoon to practice at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where Saturday’s contest will take place at 10:30 a.m. They returned home Wednesday evening and will return to the state capital on Friday night.
It will be the Braves’ longest bus trip of the season.
“It’s going to be a lot of travel. It’s going to be a lot of makeup homework and different things, but this is a mature group of kids,” Nash said. “Our expectation is for them to get through it and do it with class and integrity.
“It’s just a lot of fun. I’m not too worried about distractions. This is what we’ve worked for all year long. We’re not going to screw it up in a week.”
Last Saturday’s Seymour Semistate was a frenzy of Borden fans with the 8,500-seat arena nearly filled to capacity. Bankers Life Fieldhouse will present new challenges.
“We’re playing in an NBA gym and that’s something we’ve never, ever played in,” junior Garrett Vick said. “I’ve never even been to one, to an NBA gym at all. We just have to focus a lot more.”
“I think they’re looking forward to playing at Bankers,” Nash said. “Getting to experience Bankers Life Fieldhouse can be very overwhelming. It’s an emotional roller coaster. You want to enjoy it, but you also want to get to work and try to figure out how to beat Triton. I feel like our kids will.”
McCoy said he doesn’t expect the 18,165-seat arena to be a concern.
“Once we go up there, it will be just a regular game for us,” he said.