Sisley talks about rebounding record

Blake Sisley


LINCOLN CITY — Nate Hawkins enjoys giving out commemorative basketballs when his players achieve an individual milestone or break a record, and the fifth-year Heritage Hills coach is due to give out another one in January.

The Patriots are scheduled to co-host the Perry-Spencer Tournament later this month, but it's set to be Jan. 8 against Gibson Southern that he'll have the basketball presented to senior Blake Sisley, who currently stands at 569 rebounds, the most by a boys basketball player in Heritage Hills history. Sisley pulled down 11 rebounds Dec. 11 at North Posey to surpass the previous record of 559 rebounds that was held by Ken Dilger from the Class of 1989.

“It’s just a great honor,” Sisley said. “It’s something I’ve worked hard for. To get it my senior year and still be able to improve upon that, it’s just a great feeling.”

Sisley’s father, Matt, a 1990 graduate, was teammates with the future NFL tight end in high school, and Blake remembers his father telling him stories about Dilger. The one-time Super Bowl Champion reached out to Blake to congratulate him on Twitter.

“He stopped by here a couple of years ago, and I got introduced to him,” Blake said. “We had small conversations. So, it’s definitely pretty cool that it happened.”

Roger Kaiser came in from Georgia in February 2020 to present Murray Becher his commemorative basketball after the latter broke his record for the most points by a player in North Spencer County. Hawkins told the Herald on Wednesday that he hadn’t reached out to Dilger yet to present the basketball to Blake, but it’s been on his mind.

“With a lot of the restrictions and attendance policies that we have right now, that might be a little bit tougher of a situation and stuff, but I think it would really be neat if we could get him here for that opportunity and let him present the basketball to him,” Hawkins said. “Obviously, I am in the process of trying to figure all that logistic stuff out, and see if he can make it happen.”

Hawkins texted the Herald Thursday to say Jan. 8 against Gibson Southern is when the presentation is supposed to happen, and Dilger had not been confirmed to make the trip to Heritage Hills, as of press time. If Dilger is able to make it, it might be presented the next day, a Saturday, against Washington, if it works better for him.

Hawkins noted that Blake has always had size, but lauded him for being a good position defender and having such a good nose for the basketball. He called his senior big man “fundamental,” who blocks out and gets in the right place.

“The biggest thing and the biggest change that I can say that I’ve seen in his game as far as rebounding goes is him being a lot more aggressive and really attacking the boards,” he said. “Versus in his freshman/sophomore year, maybe he was more of a block out guy, ‘Let it come to me.’ I think now he’s doing a much better job pursuing the basketball, I guess you could say, and really attacking the boards.”

Blake has had some rebounding performances in his years at Heritage Hills that have stood out. Hawkins thinks of Blake going against Silver Creek’s Trey Kaufman on Dec. 28, 2019, when the Pats fell, 82-78, in overtime, or when he squared off against North Harrison senior L.T. Hatton on Nov. 28.

The University of Evansville signee also got some big rebounds March 6 in the sectional semifinal against Evansville Bosse — finding his way while matched up against Bosse big man Kiyron Powell, who is now on the men’s basketball team at the University of Houston.

“Just those kind of big games with bigger opponents, and you have to work a little bit harder for them — those are definitely where you have to take more pride in those kind of games getting those rebounds," Blake said.

Hawkins knows it takes a lot to break any kind of record — and Dilger’s stood for more than 30 years. He believes Blake’s consistency through these past four years have allowed him to be the one to break the record. He noted the Pats are very proud of Blake, and he’s proud of his own accomplishments as well.

Heritage Hills lost a lot off of last year’s sectional championship team in Becher and also Simon Scherry, who formed a trio with Blake to help the Pats win their first title since 2003. So, far, however, the Pats haven’t missed a step, and are off to their first 4-0 start since Blake's freshman year in 2017-18.

Hawkins noted it’s because his players are a bunch of winners who expect to win every time they step out on the court, and they continue to get better every day.

Blake will get the opportunity to add even more rebounds to his record Friday at Crawford County, and he’ll be going against junior Keith Brooks of the Wolfpack. Crawford County is 2-4, but Heritage Hills will have to slow down senior Noah Adams for its shot to improve to 5-0.

“We’re just going to have to play defense like we always do — have our help side there, and just following the scouting report,” Blake said. “We’ve been following the scouting report, and it’s been going well for us to just be able to keep doing that.”

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