Rylie Parker said Homestead's 78-15 win over Snider on Friday had a familiar feeling.
The senior guard's father and longtime coach Rod Parker was back on the bench for the first time since undergoing surgery to treat cancer in December. For the past seven weeks, the elder Parker has watched the Spartans success on TV and, more recently, from the end of the bench while Kara Ankenbruck served as the interim coach.
"It felt like home, having my person there that I've been playing for for seven years now, it means so much," Riley Parker said. "(Coach) Ankenbruck did a really good job, and she's there with us. And we have my dad back. We're ready, and I feel like we have our full team."
Like a player eager to get back on the court, Parker said he returned to his role as head coach as soon as the doctors gave him the OK.
"I had the nod from the doctors that I could go ahead and start getting active, return to school next week on a part-time basis," Parker said. "Start working into coaching, they thought it would be good for my recovery. So while a little sore, it felt great to be back out there. The adrenaline took over during the course of the game, obviously. It's a big step for me to get back to normal."
The Spartans opened the game a little cold, at least by their standards, as Parker and sophomore Ayanna Patterson each missed their first three shots. But senior Sydney Graber was her reliable self, scoring seven points and grabbing five rebounds in the first quarter. In fact, she hit her first seven shots from the field and didn't miss until the fourth quarter.
"Sydney's a great player, a very versatile player, great senior leadership, those are all important things," Rod Parker said. "I've been through a lot of battles with Sydney over the course of the last four years, and she's really developed into the player that she is, and having a wonderful senior season. ... She's out there doing what I expect and what her teammates expect her to do."
Freshman Molly Stock came off the bench and kept the Spartans well ahead of the Panthers by hitting all three of her 3-point attempts in the first quarter.
"Molly's shoots were big: I thought we a little sluggish to start the game, getting in the flow of everything, we missed a couple of easy shots, I thought, early on," Rod Parker said. "And when Molly came in and hit those three shots in a pretty short amount of time, that got us a lot of momentum and got us over the hump and loosened things up for us tonight."
The Spartans (16-1 overall, 7-0 SAC) took a 20-4 lead by the end of the first quarter, and by the end of the half that lead had stretched to 39-8. Snider's 15 points matched a season-low for the Spartans, who also gave up just 15 points against Bishop Dwenger.
Graber finished the game with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting and 12 rebounds. Patterson finished the game with 17 points and eight rebounds and Parker scored 14. Stock hit a fourth 3-pointer in the final period to finish with 12 points.
Snider senior guard Payton Gorman scored seven of her team-leading nine points in the fourth quarter. She was the only Panther to score in the second half, and Snider (4-12, 2-4) was shut out in the fourth quarter.
Homestead junior guard Megan Yoder got the start in place of Grace Sullivan, although Parker said he expects Sullivan to be ready to return to the lineup in time for the Spartans' trip to Berlin, Ohio, on Monday.