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Carroll’s Josh Gilbert tips a rebound away from Homestead’s Caleb Swanigan during the second quarter Friday.
High school basketball

Spartans grab victory in another close one

– On the same day Homestead and Carroll accepted invitations to join the SAC, the longtime NHC rivals hooked up in another hotly contested game with the Spartans slipping past the Chargers 52-48 on the road Friday.

The outcome in this big-school rivalry has been decided by five or fewer points eight times in the last decade.

“If you look over the last eight or nine years, it is always a close game, a battle, and who is going to get a lucky break at the end,” Homestead coach Chris Johnson said. “We were fortunate that it bounced our way at the end. It could have very easily gone the other way.”

Homestead and Carroll will become SAC members in football and girls and boys basketball when the NHC disbands before the 2015-16 school year.

“We are excited for the challenge,” said Johnson, who coached in the SAC with Bishop Dwenger for five years before moving over to Homestead. “The NHC will be no longer, so I am glad we got somewhere because it is better to battle during the season rather than being independent. We know SAC plays tough basketball, they are hard-nosed games.”

The focus, though, for both coaches was on the present.

“That’s two years off right now,” Carroll coach Marty Beasley said of joining the SAC. “We are just trying to be as good as we can right now and get our guys better. That stuff will happen when it happens.”

Homestead (4-1) won the NHC opener over Carroll (2-3) by playing tough defense at the end and giving sophomore center Caleb Swanigan, who was swarmed by the Chargers’ defense and scored only nine points on 3-of-10 shooting, some help.

Teddy Ray hit four 3-pointers en route to 15 points, and Tahj Curry added 13 points and had a big block on a 3-point attempt by Carroll’s Chandler White, who finished with 17 points, in the closing seconds.

“They were really helping down on Biggie (Swanigan), so our guards had to come out and make shots,” Curry said. “That’s what we did, hit big shots to win the game. That gives our guards a lot of confidence to shoot the ball and just shows that we when people are open, we can hit big shots.”

Curry, a sophomore, said he is looking forward to the Spartans joining the SAC.

“That will be a lot of fun, playing in the holiday tournament and playing against a lot of good teams,” Curry said of the SAC.

Neither team shot it well. Homestead went 16 of 44 (37 percent) from the field and 13 of 26 (50 percent) from the free-throw line. Carroll was 16 of 45 (36 percent) from the field.

“I thought we would shoot it better, but they have nice length on their team, and it is hard to shoot over length,” Beasley said. “We did a great job on Biggie and (Dana) Batt, but the problem was they had guys who stepped up and we didn’t.”

gjones@jg.net

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