Homestead just keeps rolling.
The Class 4A No. 4 Spartans are undefeated against teams from Indiana this season and had little trouble winning their 24th in a row over Hoosier State opponents Friday night.
They raced out to a 22-point halftime lead in their Class 4A South Side Sectional semifinal against Columbia City in a nearly full gym and cruised to a 53-31 win behind 22 points from guard Rylie Parker and 10 points and five rebounds from center Ayanna Patterson.
Senior Olivia Shearer led the Eagles, who came in winners of five in row, with 13 points.
“Obviously Columbia City's a very good basketball team,” Homestead coach Rod Parker said. “I was proud of the way in the first half especially we defended. ... We executed well on offense. Second half maybe wasn't as sharp, but in general I thought our effort was really good tonight.”
The Spartans (24-1) have won 16 games in a row and will take on South Side (16-9), which defeated Wayne 89-29 in the other semifinal, at 7:30 p.m. today for the sectional championship. The Archers were the last Indiana team to stay within single digits of Homestead, falling 56-49 on Jan. 10.
The Spartans are looking for their sixth sectional championship in seven years and have embraced the idea that a title in this round of the tournament is to be expected for their program.
“There's always pressure, but we take it as excitement,” Parker said of chasing a sectional championship. “We take it as, 'We're going to get another one.' That's our goal and we're going to try our best to not shy away from it.”
The Spartans, who start three players at least 5-foot-11 and bring 5-11 Alison Stephens off the bench, had a significant height advantage and used it early. Homestead made a concerted effort to get the ball in the post to Patterson and Amber Austin in the first quarter.
Patterson had seven points in the opening quarter as a result, powering her way to the basket several times.
“We really used our size to our advantage,” Parker said. “Getting into the post and a few times we were able to get the kick-outs, which was important, and we made some shots. We really just worked hard and moved the ball fast and I think that's what helped us.”
In the second quarter, the Spartans' defense really stepped up the pressure, making it difficult for Columbia City to get shots off. Austin had a pair of blocks and the Eagles managed just three points in the quarter, trailing 32-10 at the half.
Columbia City cut the lead to 20 in the third quarter with a 9-2 run that included a pair of 3-pointers from Shearer but never seriously threatened.
Parker went 8 for 10 from the field and 3 for 4 from beyond the 3-point line. She added two steals and two assists. Sydney Graber had nine points and four rebounds.
Columbia City's season ended with a 15-8 record, the Eagles' most wins since 2014-15, though it fell short of their first sectional title since 2000.
Shearer and fellow seniors Carly Maybie, Brayden Lickey, Grace Schrader and Gabrielle Fry all played their final game with Columbia City.