Ayanna Patterson was itching to get back on the court. The 6-foot-3 sophomore played her first game in two weeks Friday night and reminded everyone why she was All-SAC First Team last season.
The Homestead forward poured in a game-high 25 points against routine double teams from the visiting Carroll Chargers and the Spartans remained undefeated with a 67-29 victory.
"It feels great (to be back)," Patterson said, laughing. "Those two weeks off, it was tough sitting there watching my team, but I was grateful to just be there (tonight)."
Senior Sydney Graber added 23 points for Homestead (6-0), including 19 in the first half as the Spartans built their lead.
The smaller Carroll (6-2) team tried to deal with Patterson's size in the middle of the floor by employing a full-court press that turned into a 2-3 zone when the ball crossed halfcourt.
With Patterson facing two and three defenders every time she touched the ball in the early going, Graber had a huge start, pouring in three 3-pointers in the first quarter. The third came from the top of the key and boosted the Spartans' advantage to 19-5 while Graber backpedaled down the floor with three fingers in the air.
"She's a great senior leader," Patterson said of Graber. "Her and Rylie (Parker), they teach us a lot, help us stay positive. Staying positive on the floor was a great thing and (Graber) does that. Whenever we need a bucket she's there, whenever we need picking up, she's there."
Patterson had 12 points in the first half as Homestead put the game away before halftime, heading into the locker room with a 38-9 advantage. She scored seven in the third quarter, including a 3-pointer, before sitting much of the fourth.
Patterson's contribution went far beyond scoring, however, as she drew extra attention at all times, leading to open looks for Graber and others.
"It helps a lot with the versatility aspect of it," Graber said of Patterson's presence. "Because now I get to move out more as a guard and shoot more 3s. Just having more height out there just opens things up for everyone else. It was huge having her tonight."
Carroll kept up its full-court press and zone defense throughout the game, forcing Homestead to work the ball around for good shots. Coach Rod Parker was relatively pleased with his team's passing and execution on offense and said it was a good preview of upcoming tests.
"It was very important," Parker said of dealing with the pressure. "That's something that we haven't seen a lot of this year, but our schedule with the way it's designed, we're going to see quite a bit of pressure from some of the teams coming up, South Side, obviously, and some of the teams from Indianapolis.
"Gives us a chance to evaluate some of the things we did well with the pressure and things we need to improve on. ... In general I thought we did a pretty good job of not letting their defense score points for their offense."
Junior guard Emily Parrett led Carroll with six points and sophomore Maggie Keinsley had seven for Homestead.