FORT WAYNE – The Homestead girls basketball team wanted to make sure it tested itself this season.
The first two of those tests will come when the Spartans compete against two other talented teams in the 2013 Hall of Fame Classic in New Castle on Friday.
We knew with having everyone coming back and what we had coming into the program that we were going to have to have some games that we knew were going to challenge us, Homestead coach Rod Parker said. We are built right now to be a little better than the norm for Homestead, and maybe better than the norm for around here, so we had to find as many ways as we could to try to toughen things up.
The Class 4A No. 3 Spartans (9-0) will play 3A No. 3 Rushville (7-1) in the first game of the Hall of Fame Classic, with 4A No. 1 Bedford North Lawrence (9-0) against 4A No. 14 Pike (8-4) in the second game. The losers will play in the consolation game, with the winners in the championship game.
Homestead will be making its first appearance in the prestigious tournament.
It means a lot to us, because we kind of feel like it puts us in a position to be recognized, at least currently, as one of the top programs in the state, Parker said. We are also excited about going down with the history of the tournament to play against really good competition as a measuring stick to see where we are at midseason. It is neat to go against teams from different parts of the state and represent the northern half of Indiana. We look forward to some good games.
Bedford North Lawrence is the defending 4A state champion, ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 11 in the USA Today national poll. The team is coached by the legendary Damon Bailey. The Stars have won their last 45 regular-season games.
Homestead also beefed up its schedule, with future home games against bigger schools in Carmel and Ben Davis.
We definitely thought it would be an advantage for us to play as tough of a schedule as we could, Parker said. Changing the schedule up takes a lot of time when you are locked into four-year contracts. Those (at the Classic), along with the fact we have Carmel and Ben Davis on the schedule this year, we thought were good games to get us prepared to play in the sectional and hopefully beyond. We were looking to toughen it up as much as we could.
The Spartans went 21-4 last year and returned senior Butler recruit Sydney Buck, juniors Josie Fisher and Grace German, sophomores Savannah Buck and Lindley Kistler, and freshman standouts Karissa McLaughlin and Madisen Parker, Rods daughter.
This point of the season, we have lived up to the expectations I had, Parker said. As we start to play a little tougher competition, we will continue to get better.