Saturday, March 04, 2017 6:25 pm
Homestead boys win sectional title
Aubree Reichel | The Journal Gazette
The seniors on the Homestead boys basketball team don't know a time during their high school career when the season ended without a championship.
The Spartans (23-3) continued that tradition with a 66-58 win over Muncie Central at the Class 4A sectional championship at Wayne on Saturday.
"It means so much," senior Brandon Durnell said. "We've worked hard, we've worked all year for this. It's just a step in our staircase. We want to make it all the way. We have four games left.
"We just have to keep getting better at practice, keeping focused throughout the week. Coach (Chris) Johnson knows what he's doing, he's been at state before. He wants to go again, we want to go."
Homestead won regional (2014), state (2015) and sectional (2016, 2017) titles in the last four yerars.
As the season's progressed, the three seniors, Durnell, Jack Ferguson and Parker Manges have helped the underclassmen build and step up in big games.
"To capitalize on what we've been working on all year, it's such a good experience," Manges said, "and we finally have some guys stepping up like (junior) Grant Raber and (freshman) Jake Archbold."
Homestead led 38-28 with 6:30 left in the third quarter, but Muncie Central got to within 58-54 with 5 minutes left in the game on a 3-pointer by Tyrek Vicks, but couldn't get any closer than four.
"Every team's going to give it their all," Johnson said. "Muncie Central played a great ball game. Thankfully, their shots stopped falling toward the fourth quarter. That helped. We started making free shots. We beat a good team.
"They were getting to the bucket. We weren't doing a very good job of keeping them out of the paint so we're going to have to improve on that. We have our work cut out for us next week."
The Spartans made four 3s in the first quarter to get out to a 19-15 lead, but the Bearcats battled and took a 23-21 lead with 5:25 left in the half.
Durnell sent Homestead into the break with a 33-28 lead after a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
"We've been struggling in some first quarters throughout the year," Durnell said, "so it was great to come out tonight and have a big first quarter and give us momentum throughout the game."
Durnell led the Spartans with 20 points and Manges and Raber each had 10.
Vicks and Christian Wells each scored 12 for the Bearcats (10-15), Kolby Mallory added 11 and Trenton Hatfield 10.
The Spartans advance to next week's regional at Logansport and will face North Side for a third time this season.
"Beating a team three times in a season is tough," Manges said. "We already know that when we did it to Wayne. We know North Side's coming for us. We had that last game in our house but I feel like we have to handle the pressure better and we've done that better the last couple weeks. There were a lot of close games in this sectional so being able to handle the pressure and getting out to an early lead is going to be good for us."