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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Richie Gross drives the baseline for a reverse layup against Homestead on Wednesday at Wayne.

  • Onye Ezeakudo of Homestead drives around Carroll’s Daniel McKeeman during their SAC Tournament matchup Wednesday at Wayne.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Homestead’s Sam Buck drives past Carroll’s Daniel McKeeman on Wednesday.

Thursday, December 28, 2017 1:00 am

SAC Tournament

Spartans get long-awaited big play, win

Late defensive block preserves 1st-round victory over Chargers

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

Scoreboard

Girls

Bishop Luers 61, North Side 25

Snider 58, Wayne 21

Carroll 56, Concordia 45

Boys

Concordia 45, Northrop 44

Bishop Dwenger 49, Bishop Luers 37

Homestead 40, Carroll 38

Four times this season, the Homestead boys basketball team has been within one major play of winning. The first three of those games were losses.

Finally, the fourth time was a charm in a 40-38 win over Carroll in the Parkview Sports Medicine SAC Holiday Tournament at Wayne on Wednesday thanks to a defensive block by Onye Ezeakudo.

“After we lost close games like that, we practiced those situations,” Ezeakudo said. “We practiced getting one stop on defense or getting one bucket to win the game and that practice helps.

“It sucks being on the other side of it, losing by one or losing by two. It was nice today to just need that one stop to get the win and that’s what we did.”

The Spartans led 38-28 in the fourth quarter, but an 8-0 run by the Chargers brought them within 38-36 with about four minutes left to play.

A layup by Trevin Taylor extended the lead to two possessions with 1:20 left, but Carroll’s David Ejah got his team back within a possession with 40 seconds remaining.

Ezeakudo led the Spartans with 12 points and Taylor added 10. Ejah had 11 for the Chargers.

“We were snake-bitten for three of our four losses on last second-plays down either one or two,” Homestead coach Chris Johnson said. “Now, we’re on the other end where Carroll had the ball down two. I was hoping to the good man above that we’d get a stop. Onye came through, made a tough defensive stop, got a block and we got the ball.

“I’m very proud of our kids to come out and beat a very good ball club like Carroll. We’ve been close. I think we’re a good ball club, defensively. I think we’re tough-minded, now it’s a matter of cleaning up those little things to make us successful.”

The Spartans knew defense and limiting Carroll’s touches would be key to winning.

Homestead came in averaging 55.4 points per game while Carroll, whose only other loss was to Wayne, came in averaging 61 and giving up only 41.

“We’ve been giving up a lot of points, and I think we’ve lost every game that we’ve let them score like, 56 or something like that so we limited their scoring,” Homestead’s Sam Buck said.

“We’re not a high-scoring team, so it forced us to play good defense and slow the tempo down.”

The teams were tied at 10 after the first quarter, but Homestead used a 14-5 run to build a 24-15 lead with under two minutes in the half and led 24-20 at halftime.

Carroll opened the second half with an 8-2 run to take a 28-26 lead, but Homestead closed the third quarter on a 10-0 run to take a 36-28 lead.

“I think we came out with a lot of intensity,” Johnson said. “We always know it’s going to be a grind versus Carroll.

“We don’t have the firepower to where we can come out and get in an up-and-down type of game with people. We have to make sure we’re playing our type of style and make teams defend and I thought we did that.”

areichel@jg.net