Sisley leaving his legacy at Heritage HillsMarch 27, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
LINCOLN CITY — Blake Sisley has mastered the art of picking his spots. As Sisley encountered swarming double-teams on the basketball court and boisterous fish on the water, he learned that he requires just a bit of room to maneuver. All he needs is a bite.
Quick pass fake, the defenders bite. Cast the line, the fish bite.
It’s not easy to score 40 points in a high-octane sectional game against Evansville Bosse or reel in a haul of fish on a lazy Saturday at Christmas Lake. However, Sisley made the spectacular seem ordinary during his four-year Heritage Hills career.
“The first thing that comes to mind is going out there and competing,” he said. “It’s always fun to do well in a game and see the success that can come from it.”
While he prepared for the season, Sisley accepted a new challenge. He needed to lead the Patriots, both vocally and by example. After capturing a Pocket Athletic Conference championship and a sectional championship, the modest leader highlighted the team’s achievements.
“We had some other guys step up,” Sisley said. “I was really happy with how the season went. A lot of people counted us out. We weren’t picked to win sectionals. We weren’t really picked to win our conference. To do all of those, I think that was a huge testament to our team and how our team played so well together.”
Sisley averaged 22.6 points per game in 22 games this season. He finished his career with 1,554 points and four Pocket Athletic Conference championships. Earlier this week, the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association recognized him with “Supreme 15” honors.
Always quick to pour in points, Sisley was even quicker to recognize the loyal Pats fans.
“We have a great fan base,” he said. “We got the community more excited about basketball in the last four years. We’ve had more fans come in throughout my career. People like winning programs. We’ve built that here now. They’re just going to keep following us.”
He credits his father, Matt, for showing him the tricks of the trade. Matt’s valuable insight carries weight because he played and coached for the Patriots in the past.
Like father, like son.
“He’s always been the one to train me,” Blake said. “I’ve never had any other kind of trainer. He’s always been there for me. With everything that he’s experienced in his coaching and playing careers, he guides me in different ways. I couldn’t even imagine going through my high school career, college recruiting or even life without him.”
The work paid dividends. Blake will continue his journey at the University of Evansville in the fall.
“It’s gratifying,” Matt said. “He has put in so much time in his development. Sundays, weeknights in the spring when nobody else is around. The hours, the tears, the joy. Just the overall work — there’s a lot that nobody sees. He has put in the time.”
Blake displayed his knack for scoring from every imaginable angle around the basket and honed his marksmanship throughout his career. He wants to spread the floor, stretch the defense and prove his worth as a reliable shooter in college.
“That will help separate him and give him an advantage,” Matt said. “Being able to put the ball on the floor at his size will help him at the next level.”
The work ethic, the example, the gratitude — all have left an indelible impact on Pats head coach Nate Hawkins and the Heritage Hills program.
“It’s always been pretty common in basketball camps,” Hawkins said. “When we’re passing out jerseys, kids will say, ‘Hey, I want to be 52. I want to be Blake Sisley.’ That’s the biggest compliment you can get as a player.”
Hawkins’ words were personified as sportsmanship permeated throughout the Hatchet House earlier this month. After Heritage Hills lost to Silver Creek in a 3A Regional 8 contest, Blake shared a tight embrace with Silver Creek senior Trey Kaufman-Renn.
“We’ve gone at it since we’ve been young,” Blake said. “We have so much respect for each other. He’s a great player. He’s going to Purdue — there’s a reason for that.”
In Matt’s words, Blake “paved the way” for his brother Trent. Trent is an eighth-grader with his own hoop dreams, but Blake set high standards during some friendly competition. When the brothers played one-on-one games last year, the seasoned veteran taught the youngster a few tricks.
“I lost a lot,” Trent said. “He won a lot. There were a lot of tough games. We both got better from it, though.”
The action has subsided, and Blake has enjoyed reminiscing with his family over the last few weeks. He is invigorated by the chance to play at Evansville.
“Once the season ended, I was just reflecting and thinking about what’s going to be next for me,” Blake said. “It’s exciting. In about mid-June, I’ll go down there and start summer conditioning. I’m just looking forward to that right now.”
This time of the year is a special period for any high school senior. However, Trent is perhaps more excited than Blake.
“I can’t wait to see what he does at Evansville next year,” Trent said. “I think it’s cool. We’ll get to watch him a lot in person at Evansville and even some of the away games. Hopefully, he can come down to Heritage Hills.”
Off the court, Blake embraces the outdoors. He enjoys working with tools and crafting Adirondack chairs. Matt has witnessed his son assemble various crafts with every last nut, bolt and screw.
All he can do is shrug his shoulders.
“I can’t explain it,” Matt said with a hearty chuckle. “Trent and I can barely use a hammer.”
Fishing provides peace in Blake’s life. He enjoys listening to country music while he searches for his next catch, and he has learned persistence through his favorite hobby.
“I just like the challenge,” Blake said. “It passes the time. I like being outdoors and doing all that kind of stuff. It’s just something I’ve always done outside of basketball when I have free time.”
A solutions-oriented young man, Blake has checked off several boxes in his life. A standout basketball player, an old soul, a loving brother and son. The Heritage Hills community will regale tales about his efforts for years to come.
“You just can’t replace a kid like Blake Sisley because of what he’s meant,” Hawkins said.
One bite, and Blake is in business.
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