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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Homestead’s Josie Fisher drives for a shot against Norwell’s Stephanie Conrad in first half Thursday at Norwell. The Spartans avenged close losses the last two years with a big win.
Homestead 54, Norwell 33

Spartans surge in 2nd half

Get big NHC win on road against rival

– After being snake-bit on its last couple of trips to Norwell, the Homestead girls basketball team wanted to leave little doubt in its annual battle with the Knights.

The Class 4A No. 4 Spartans accomplished that by pulling away in the second half for a 54-33 road win Thursday against the 3A No. 3 Knights.

Homestead (5-0, 1-0 NHC) lost in the final seconds in its last two trips to Ossian, including a 63-60 buzzer-beating loss two years ago.

“This is a tough place to play, and we knew it would be difficult,” Homestead coach Rod Parker said.

The winner of the game often goes a long way in deciding the NHC championship.

“We came in knowing it was a big statement game,” Homestead senior Sydney Buck said. “I am glad we could come on the road and got the job done. We have a really good rivalry with them because we are usually the top two teams in the conference.”

Buck led a 30-13 second-half surge with 12 of her 15 points. Karissa McLaughlin also scored 15 points for Homestead, including nine in the second half.

“They were kind of all over me, and I was just trying to take what I could get,” Buck said. “If I had to take the ball to the basket more, then that’s what I had to do.”

Homestead came into the game averaging 79.5 points per game, third in the state, but switched its style and got defensive.

“The nice thing about this group is we have a lot of versatility with the players we have, and we can do a lot against different teams,” Parker said. “We got the shots today to score more points than we did with the way we play but that happens, and you are not going to shoot the ball extremely well every night. The fact we didn’t do that tonight, and we still found a way to win and get it done on our defensive end was good for us.”

The Spartans forced 19 turnovers , primarily with a solid 3-2 zone.

“They certainly played well defensively,” Norwell coach Eric Thornton said. “We had some travel calls, and it seemed to get in our head a little bit.”

The Spartans outscored the Knights 17-6 in the third and 13-7 in the fourth.

Homestead went on a 12-0 run to open the second for a 22-10 advantage. But Norwell kept chipping away at the lead and trailed 24-20 at halftime.

“We really lost confidence in that third quarter,” Thornton said.

“We lost that momentum we had coming into halftime when we did a great job fighting back after being down double digits in the second quarter. Homestead’s poise in the second half was the difference in the game.”

Norwell (4-1, 0-1) got nine points from Stephanie Conrad and seven from Kelsey Beer.