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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, December 12, 2018 1:00 am

Homestead 62 Norwell 54

Spartans use size to down Knights

Patterson leads with 20 points, 15 boards

Dan Vance | For the Journal Gazette

There were just four undefeated teams left in northeast Indiana before Tuesday night as two of those teams faced off at Homestead. The Spartans (10-0) used a big third-quarter push to top Norwell (9-1) 62-54 in a nonconference meeting between the leaders in the Summit Athletic and Northeast Eight conferences.

The size disparity was clear from the tipoff when Ayanna Patterson soared over Norwell's Aubrey Dunnuck to take the early lead for Homestead. Patterson used her size advantage all game to log one of her best career performances, finishing with 20 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks.

“I feel like I have adjusted and I slowed the game down in my head adjusting to this level,” Patterson said. “I was able to slow it down and finish. It's just basketball.”

Late in the first quarter, Lauren Bales thwarted Homestead's attempt to build on its lead when she found Ashley Vandenboom to tie the game at 15.

Homestead's Rylie Parker would take back the lead in the closing seconds of the quarter with a 3-pointer of her own. It was Parker's first made 3 after missing her first two attempts. She had sat out the previous two games with a knee injury.

A pair of Norwell 3-pointers off Homestead errors gave the Knights the lead early in the second quarter. Off a Patterson travel with 4:30 to play, Bales knocked down a 3-pointer to give Norwell a 25-24 lead. TheKnights led 28-24 before Homestead charged back.

The closing minute of the half had two contentious calls. Confusion abounded on an and-one against Norwell with 50 seconds to play. Patterson then closed the half shooting free throws after a foul was called at the buzzer, waved off and then called again.

The Spartans ended the first half on a 13-1 run.

“I thought Ayanna played really well today. In that first half, she was the best player on the court. I thought she dominated in certain areas of the game,” Homestead coach Rod Parker said. “Her defensive presence was big, her length was good and she really impacted some of the shots they took inside.”

The second half started balanced, but when Parker went on a 8-0 run of her own with 2:14 left in the third quarter, momentum was officially back on Homestead's side as they led 45-32.

“Coming into this game, I only wanted to play her in a couple three-minute stints to get her back in the flow of things, but Rylie brings a lot of energy to this team,” Parker said. “She had a stretch there of three possessions in the third quarter that were absolutely huge.”

Homestead was able to wear Norwell down and force long possessions with their 2-3 zone. The slower pace benefited the Spartans as their own shooting heated up after wrinkles throughout the night. Homestead finished 7 of 16 from three-point range.

Norwell got in their runs in the fourth quarter with Patterson on the bench. Maiah Shelton was able to get the ball inside and fight for rebounds. Her four straight points with 3:56 left got Norwell back within nine. Breann Barger's basket with 1:35 to play cut the Homestead lead to six, at 59-53, and made Barger 4 of 4 from the field.

In the end, time just wasn't on Norwell's side. When Aubrey Dunnuck was called for a charge with 33.6 seconds left, it was all academic on the scoreboard even as Homestead struggled to hit free throws down the stretch.

Barger led Norwell with 11 points while Shelton added 10 points and seven rebounds. Parker and Sylare Starks each added 13 points for Homestead.