Blair rewrites record book in special year

Southwood senior Carson Blair looks for room to operate during a game against Lafayette Central Catholic on March 2. Blair has had a memorable season, becoming the county’s all-time leading scorer. Photo by Josh Sigler

By Josh Sigler

Believe it or not, basketball was not Carson Blair’s first love when it came to sports.

Those who have watched his career trajectory won’t find it that puzzling, but the physical nature of the game of football drew him in before he developed a passion for hoops.

“Then, about second grade I started to like basketball,” Blair said. “I played at the YMCA and got into it then. My dad played and my brother played, so they got me interested in it.”

Blair went on to re-write the record book for the Southwood football program, throwing for an eye-popping 57 touchdowns with just three interceptions as a senior, leading the Knights to a repeat sectional championship.

Turns out he’s not too bad at basketball either, breaking his father’s school scoring record on his team’s way to the the Wabash County Tournament title before breaking the Wabash County all-time scoring record later in the season on senior night. It’s all happening in a season where the team is enjoying success never before paralleled.

He credits his family, namely his brother, Jackson, and father, Todd, for their guidance and example set for the youngest Blair to help him achieve so much as a prep athlete.

“(Having an older brother) helped me a ton,” Carson said. “Not just from watching him play, but he would come work out with me too. My dad would put us through workouts, and he would come work out with me and make me better. He was the older brother, and he’d kind of pick on me by not letting me win. I think that helped me competitively and helped me improve my game.

“(My dad) was a huge influence, just teaching me the game and how to play it right. He gave me the skills.”

First came the school record. People had been asking him for some time when he was going break his dad’s mark, but he didn’t let the pressure get to him. He knew he was closing in on the record, but he paid little attention to it, letting the record come to him as opposed to pressing the issue.

“’Just go out there and play,’” he remembered saying to himself.  “I knew I was getting close to it. It was the county tourney. If you’re going to win a championship you have to play the game first. I’m glad it happened. It was a pretty cool moment to share with my dad. I had told him, messing with him, from when I was young that I was going to break his record.”

He continued to pile up the points and the next milestone would soon follow. The Knights welcomed Eastbrook to town for senior night on Feb. 20, and Carson put on a show.

He poured in a career-high 39 points in a 101-64 victory, hitting nine 3-pointers in the process to eclipse Wabash’s Marc Slaton’s old county record of 1,575 points.

“It was senior night and I knew it was the last time I’d play there at Southwood,” Carson said. “Early on I got my shot going, and once I got it going I was going to make a lot. It was senior night and my teammates kept getting me the ball, and I just it fly.

“It means a lot. Everyone that’s played throughout the years in the county, and for me to be the all-time leading scorer – that’s huge,” he added. “I’ve seen a lot of great players play in the county. It’s a great accomplishment for me to do that. I’m glad I could.”

Blair has been a mainstay on the Knights’ varsity squad for the last four years. Coach John Burrus said the team has grown right along with Blair has he’s grown and matured as a player.

“What was really neat about it was when we had him as a younger player, older players embraced him and let him become Carson Blair,” Burrus said. “You don’t score 1,500 points by just arriving your senior year. He’s had a lot of kids with him that have gotten him the ball and set screens for him. Then as you saw (in the sectional) he can create and make things happen.”

Along with pouring in points, he’s helped a pair of classmates, Peyton Trexler and Matthew Nose reach the 1,000-point marks for their careers, as well.

He was just as excited to watch those milestones unfold as he was his own.

“It’s been everything to me,” Blair said. “We play off each other. Some nights when my shot’s not going, Peyton and Matthew pick me up. Them improving their games helped us out a ton. We couldn’t have done it without them. I’m glad I’ve been able to see them improve. It’s helped the team succeed.”

Burrus has admired Blair’s ability to share the ball and the limelight with his teammates.

“Carson is the guy who’s known as the big scorer,” Burrus said. “And, for him to have two other 1,000-point scorers in his class, it shows he’s willing to share. The other night when we played (in the opening round of the sectional), he only had seven points but he had 13 assists. He’s not the kind of kid who’s coming down and jacking it up. He’s taking good shots. And, for him a good shot is an open 28-footer. That’s just how he plays.”

Trexler went over the 1,000-point mark during a 90-53 win over Madison Grant on Feb. 8.

“This means the world,” Trexler said. “We’ve been working for this since fourth grade, playing AAU together. We’ve dreamed about this moment. We’ve dreamed about playing under the lights and in big situations. Now that it’s come true, it’s the most amazing thing ever.”

Nose followed, eclipsing the 1,000-point plateau during an 89-66 win at Adams Central on Feb. 13.

“It means everything,” Nose said. “Your whole high school career you dream of doing his. We came up short a couple years before finally getting a sectional under our belts last year. To be making school history is truly amazing.”

Southwood went on to claim their second sectional title in as many years, outlasting host Lafayette Central Catholic 70-66 before routing Frontier 96-42 in the championship round.

The squad then breezed through the Frankfort Regional. The Class A No. 3-ranked Knights routed North Vermillion 80-42 in the morning semifinal before running away with a 92-57 victory over Seton Catholic in the regional championship game, earning them a spot in the semistate for the first time since 2010 and just the second time ever.

The victories improved the Knights to 24-3, setting a school record for wins.

Blair, who is opting to not play sports in college, stands at 1,675 points heading into the semistate, but It’s that team success that really drives him in the what are the final days of his career.

“It means everything,” he said. “In football and basketball we (hadn’t) won a regional game. We’ve been looking forward to that, hoping we could get through the sectional, and a tough team like Lafayette Central Catholic and grind one out. We’re excited to see what we can do from here.”

Posted on 2018 Mar 13