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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, February 02, 2019 10:50 pm

Homestead girls cruise to sectional title

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

If there was any local team that had a path to beating Homestead, it seemed like it would be South Side.

Though the Archers hadn't claimed a win in their first two meetings with the Spartans this season, they had twice held Homestead, which averaged 64.8 points per game, in the 40s. Jaci Jones had put together two 30-plus point performances in the week leading up to Saturday's sectional final. Combine the two, and South Side might have a shot to repeat as sectional champs.

But Homestead made sure that game plan wouldn't come to fruition, running away with a 63-36 win to reclaim the Class 4A Homestead Sectional title. 

"It feels great, because we've worked so hard for this every practice, so finally to win this means a lot," Homestead senior guard Sylare Starks said while waiting her turn to cut down a piece of the net. 

Junior forward Sydney Graber and senior forward Haley Swing helped Homestead jump out to an 8-2 lead forcing South Side coach Juanita Goodwell to call a timeout.

At first, that seemed to buoy the Archers, who tied the game 12-12 on a 3-pointer by junior guard Jones. 

But then Starks scored seven straight points for the Spartans, including a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first quarter to go ahead 19-12. The Archers never regained the lead and trailed 33-19 at halftime. 

"We really talked, going into the game, about how important it was to have a good start," Homestead coach Rod Parker said. "The first two times we played Homestead this year, and in a couple other games, we were a little sluggish offensively to begin the game, and we dug our way out in the second half. We really wanted to get a good start, good lead, and make them play from behind, because we thought that was to our advantage."

Starks finished with a game-high 16 points despite scoring just once in the second half. Swing scored 15 and Graber had 12. Forward Ayanna Patterson was limited to just four points, all from free throws in the fourth quarter, but the Spartans sailed to victory even without a big scoring night from the freshman. 

"I thought we were more efficient offensively today than we were in the SAC tournament," Parker said, referring to the Spartans' 43-30 win in the tournament final. "We got great shots, we knocked them in today. I thought we made some extra passes. We were efficient, took care of the basketball on the offensive end.

"And the biggest thing is, all three times we've played South Side, we've been good defensively. And today was another testimony to what we can do on the defensive end of the basketball court."

The outside shooting game that had propelled the Archers in recent games deserted them, as South Side shot 4 for 24 on 3-pointers. Jones was 3 of 12 and led the team in scoring with 15 points. Freshman guard Olivia Smith scored 10.

The Spartans will next face Zionsville (18-8) in the regional semifinals at Kokomo at noon next Saturday. South Side's season is over, although Darriyn Hackbarth is the only starter graduating at the end of this school year.

"I am disappointed, but we came together and we grew, and hopefully we can get here next year and pull out a win next time," Jones said. 

vjacobsen@jg.net