Homestead beat Jay County 51-35 in a Class 4A championship game at Wayne on Monday for the Spartans’ second straight sectional title and eighth overall.
"We’re fortunate that our kids came through," Homestead coach Chris Johnson said. "We had tough sectional games against South Side and against Jay County tonight, and hopefully that will prepare us for next week."
Up 36-26 with 2:50 remaining in the third quarter, the Spartans slowed the game and ultimately Jordan Geist brought it to a literal standstill for the remainder of the quarter, standing near the half-court line dribbling. After a minute into the fourth, Jay County’s Zach Pryor pressured Geist and got the game moving again.
"With us being up 10, there’s no sense to force the action, so why not make them come out and guard us a little and that’s what we tried to do especially in the third quarter," Johnson said.
Caleb Swanigan led the Spartans with 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Geist added 19 points, shooting 8 of 10.
"It means a lot," Swanigan said of the title. "We have bigger aspirations for this year; we’ve been saying it since the beginning of this year.
"Everyone’s giving you their best shot, even if they lose the next game, they knocked you off, just like Snider got knocked off."
The Patriots put up a fight in the first half passing around the perimeter and forcing Homestead to spread out, allowing Jay County to attack through openings by the basket.
The Patriots took a 21-17 lead with four minutes left in the second quarter, but the Spartans responded with an 8-0 run to go into the break ahead 25-21.
Homestead upped the defensive pressure in the third quarter and allowed only three points in the first four minutes. The Spartans scored 14 points off 11 turnovers.
Adam Dirksen scored 13 points for Jay County, and Jay Houck added 10.
The key for the Spartans in the remaining games will be to get off to a quicker start. In the sectional semifinal against South Side, a strong offensive surge didn’t come until the fourth. In the championship, it started in the second.
"A fast start is going to be key especially in some of the tougher games we could see coming up," Homestead’s Dana Batt said. "We have to be prepared because against a lot of these teams, we’re not going to be able to rely on ourselves to pull it out on the second half."
Homestead will face Carroll at the Marion Regional semifinal at 10 a.m. Saturday. It will be the third time the teams have faced each other with the Spartans winning the first two matchups.
"We know that Carroll’s going to be ready to go," Johnson said. "It’s a rivalry game for us, and we know the two schools always play well against one another, and I know it’s going to be a good ballgame."