FORT WAYNE – Homestead continues to put a rough start to the season behind it.
The Spartans won their third straight game with a 63-31 win over host South Side on Tuesday.
Homestead (3-1) opened the season with a 69-53 road loss to Huntington North on Nov. 27 but has beaten Merrillville (70-41), Warsaw (49-48) and the Archers since then.
The biggest difference is kids are starting to learn how to play with one another and starting to figure each other out, Homestead coach Chris Johnson said. Over the last three games, especially the last two against Warsaw and tonight, our offense is clicking a lot better and our defense is playing better as far as making them take contested shots.
Sophomore center Caleb Swanigan led the way for Homestead with 20 points and 18 rebounds.
Since Huntington North, we have been practicing, and the guys are getting familiar with varsity-level speed and the competition, because a lot of guys played on JV before, and it is them getting a taste of varsity, said Swanigan, who sat out the fourth quarter. When a team shoots as well as Huntington North did, it is just really tough luck. Just in two weeks, we have improved a lot.
Homestead was able to move the ball around against the zone defense of South Side, which resulted in good looks on the perimeter, including two 3-pointers in the first quarter by Teddy Ray, who finished with eight points. The outside shooting opened things up inside for a pair of 6-foot-8 post players in Swanigan and Dana Blatt, who also scored eight.
We just moved the ball a lot, and we were hitting 3-pointers so they had to respect them, Swanigan said. It really opened up the post, and it went really fluid and smooth, unlike other games where we dont take as many outside shots. Once we get rolling, we are really hard to stop. When we get into trouble is when we get stagnant and inconsistent.
Homestead made 16 of 27 shots (60 percent), including 3 of 5 on 3-pointers, in the first half.
I said to our guards right before the game that they are great shooters, but you cant take tough shots, Johnson said. Thats what we were doing early on. Against Warsaw, we had our feet set .. and tonight things started clicking, and when you get ahead, it seems like everything is going in for you, and it was a tough night for South Side.
The Spartans held an 18-5 lead after one quarter and outscored the Archers 20-3 in the second quarter, and the rout was on with a 38-8 halftime advantage. South Side didnt get into double figures until midway through the third.
Once you get behind 10 or 12, and then get behind 20, you are taking quick shots and contested shots rather than really working the basketball, Johnson said. That helped us out tremendously by them taking the quick shots.
Trae Masten had eight points for South Side (0-2).