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Bulldogs snap Spartans’ NHC streak at 19

– New Haven broke Homestead’s 19-game NHC winning streak with an 82-70 home win Saturday.

The Bulldogs (11-4, 5-1 NHC) and Spartans (14-4, 5-1) are now tied atop the NHC.

If both teams win their league finales this week, they will share the conference crown.

New Haven snapped a 15-game losing streak against Homestead, dating to the 1997-98 season.

It was New Haven’s sixth straight win. The Bulldogs have won six of seven since a three-game losing streak early in the season.

“We got a good team, and we played some tough, quality teams,” New Haven coach Al Gooden said. “We are coming around nicely. They are playing together as a team, and that’s what is getting us through.”

The Bulldogs clinched it by hitting 13 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter.

“Our guys stepped up and made their free throws, which was important,” Gooden said. “We take turns (in practice) putting pressure on each other (shooting free throws).”

A piece of the NHC title can be New Haven’s by beating East Noble on the road Thursday.

“It feels good,” New Haven’s V.J. Beachem said of the Bulldogs’ position for a league title. “Hopefully we can clinch a share of the conference … and maybe even outright.”

Beachem had 23 points and eight rebounds. Monte Stevenson added 18, Jordan Hogue 15 and Jabar Ray had 14.

For Homestead, Nick Gamble had 18 points and Caleb Swanigan 17 and 12 rebounds.

The Spartans hadn’t lost in the conference since Feb. 25, 2010, when they dropped a 53-43 decision to Norwell.

Homestead can still clinch at least a share of its fourth straight league title with a win at Norwell on Thursday.

“I told my kids it is awfully hard to give up 82 points and expect to win,” Homestead coach Chris Johnson said. “That’s tough, and we were playing to their style. We could never get over the hump.

“There are things we can learn from, and we still have a chance to tie for the conference.

“That’s one of our goals to make sure we win the conference, and we have that chance Thursday at a tough place to play in Norwell.”

The Spartans, who actually had beaten NHC foes the last 22 straight games including non-league contests, cut the lead to 47-42 late in the third before the Bulldogs pulled away with a 10-0 run that pushed the margin to 57-42.

Homestead opened the fourth with a run of its own, 10-2 that cut the lead to 59-53.

“We tried to do too much, but once we slowed down and play our game, we were able to negate their 10-0 run,” Beachem said.

New Haven jumped out to an early 12-2 lead in the first. Homestead battled back and got to within 17-13 after one.

The Bulldogs held the lead throughout the second, but the Spartans got within 32-31 with a minute left in the half. New Haven led 35-31 at halftime.

gjones@jg.net

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