MARION – It's a new look and a new attitude for the Homestead boys basketball team in the postseason.
And it seems to be working well.
Led by a 4-guard offense and a team approach, the Spartans are venturing into uncharted territory.
With a 59-57 win over No. 3 Hamilton Southeastern in the championship of the Marion Class 4A Regional on Saturday, the unranked and surprising Spartans won the school's first-ever regional championship.
"Unbelievable," Homestead coach Chris Johnson said of the regional title. "They believe in one another. We are playing our best basketball right now. That's when you want to peak, which is right now."
Homestead (20-7) will advance to the semistate to play No. 8 Lake Central (21-3) at either Huntington North or Lafayette Jeff next Saturday.
"We just played all together and played as a team," Homestead senior Joe Ault said. "We couldn't be happier with the outcome.
"(The regional title) means everything. We have been working hard all year, and this is what we came here for."
Homestead has won five straight games since limping into the postseason with a 4-3 record over its last seven regular-season games.
"They are jelling, and they are getting it figured out," Johnson saidof his team. "They understand it. We had some troubles early in the season, where we weren't really understanding our roles. This time of the year, we are going to make sure the kids understand it, and they are pulling through it."
Sophomore Caleb Swanigan led the Spartans with 26 points and 13 rebounds, while Ault scored 16 points and sophomore Tajh Curry added 10 points.
"We just go at it for each other," Swanigan said. "Being young (two seniors) at this point of the season doesn't really matter. (In the postseason) we have just paid attention to the intricate details that the coaches throw at us in the locker room, and that is what has pushed us to the next level."
The team approach was no bigger then when Swanigan went to the bench with four fouls early in the fourth quarter.
When the 6-foot-8 Swanigan, who has offers from Indiana and Michigan State among others, went to the bench with 7:41 left, the Spartans trailed 43-40.
When "Biggie", as he is known, returned with 3:39 left, the Spartans trailed only by two 51-49.
"Our kids hung in there," Johnson said. "We had to get him out, and we gave him a breather, and, and we were able to stay close."
Ault had two key 3-pointers without Swanigan and then hit 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch.
"When Biggie picked up his fourth foul, we needed to step up," Ault said. "We hit some shots."
Swanigan had 18 points and 22 rebounds in a 68-60 win over Kokomo in the regional semifinals.
The Royals (23-4) knocked off No. 4 North Side (24-2) 59-55 in the regional semifinals.
Mike Davis led the Redskins, who finished with the school's best-ever winning percentage, with 22 points.
North Side made 20 of 44 (46 percent) from the field, including 7 of 24 (29 percent) on 3-pointers.
"We missed shots we have made all year, and they just didn't go down," North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq said. "They were good shots; they just didn't go down. I wouldn't have changed anything or done anything differently. We just didn't make them, and we normally do."
The school record for wins in a season is 27, set by the 1978 team.
"They are in the discussion to be the greatest team ever to play at North Side High School," Khaliq said. "That's a great accomplishment. They should reflect back on that, although they won't right now. They have set the tone for the type of kids we want in our program."