ANDREW JANSEN / JOURNAL Rashad Lindsey, MICDS, in the Rams game against Lindbergh. Max Worthen, lind.

Andrew Jansen

It’s just another game. It’s just another game. It’s just another game. That’s what Matt Hixenbaugh has been trying to get through to his Mary Institute-Country Day School boys’ basketball team about Friday’s home game with rival John Burroughs. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m.

It’s just another game.

It is, but it isn’t. The Bombers and Rams could play shuffleboard on a cruise liner in the middle of the Aegean Sea, and it wouldn’t be just a game. Then there’s the fact that Friday’s game, which follows the girls, matchup earlier that same day, is Paint it Pink night to raise money for cancer awareness. MICDS and John Burroughs will donate the proceeds of the game to the local American Cancer Society.

Let’s also not forget this will be the first time that the Bombers and Rams have played one another in basketball since MICDS handed Burroughs a thorough thumping in their only meeting on the gridiron in the fall. There is a healthy chunk of Bomber backers champing at the bit to exact some teeny, tiny piece of revenge on their arch rival. So yeah, when you add all that up, it’s not just a game. Or is it? “It’s exciting for our players and the community,” Hixenbaugh says. “But on the court, for our guys, it’s another game.”

There should be plenty of flash and dash on the court. Both teams enter the first of their two Metro League contests playing outstanding basketball. MICDS knocked off Chaminade last week and had won three in a row. The Rams have been relying heavily on sophomore point guard Rashad Lindsey, who leads the team with over 15 points per game. Fellow sophomore Robin Thompson has been good, too, averaging more than eight points and six rebounds per game. Senior forward Thomas Militello also has been a significant contributor. He’s averaging eight points, four rebounds and a team-high four assists.

Also back on the court is senior forward Michael Scherer. After a long and rough football season left him banged up, Scherer took a few weeks to get his body healthy. He returned to the court just before Christmas and is working his way into basketball shape. “He’s a natural leader,” Hixenbaugh says.

MICDS has put together a solid first half of its season—no denying that. But John Burroughs has been on fire. The Bombers won the Chaminade Christmas Tournament and did so by toppling the host school, no easy feat for a Class 3 team. They put together a seven-game win streak that was, strangely, ended last week when Crossroads College Prep eked past the Bombers 61-60.

Foye Oluokun has been the catalyst for Burroughs. He’s averaging almost 20 points and almost eight rebounds, four steals, three assists and a block every game. “He’s pretty explosive,” Hixenbaugh says.

If he was any more explosive he’d have ‘TNT’ across his chest. But the Bombers are far from a one-man team as both Ezekiel Elliott and Amos Shinkle are contributing more than eight points per game and doing their share of rebounding, too.

Hixenbaugh says that the biggest challenge presented by the Bombers is the way they prepare and approach every game. “The biggest thing for me is they’re so well coached,” Hixenbaugh says. “They stick to their game plan. That presents a big challenge.”