The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, March 03, 2020 11:10 pm

Defense fuels Homestead's sectional win

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

HUNTINGTON – Defense doesn't slump, or so the saying goes. Defense also doesn't get jittery.

The Homestead offense looked a little disjointed in the early minutes of the Spartans' 70-50 win over Wayne in the first round of the Huntington North Class 4A Sectional Tournament on Tuesday night, but the Spartans did enough on defense to lead 12-4 after the first quarter and 25-11 at halftime. 

"I thought we came out a little sloppy, but maybe that's because of the nerves," Homestead coach Chris Johnson said. "I think we settled ourselves in. Defensively, we were there, we were dialed in, but offensively we were loose with the basketball."

On two of Homestead's first three possessions, the Spartans (15-8, 6-3 SAC) failed to even get a shot off. The one Spartans who did start the game hot was Grant Simmons, who hit all three of his shots in the first quarter, scoring eight points. But the junior got hit in the eye and ended up playing just over 13 minutes. 

But the offensive situation was much more dire for the Generals, who shot 17% from the field in the first half, including 1 of 8 from 3-point land. 

The Generals opened the second half on a 7-0 run that cut Homestead's lead to 25-18, but that flurry seemed to galvanize the Spartans, who would never let the lead get back down to single digits. 

"We started taking longer offensive possessions and taking easier shots," senior forward Alec Grinsfelder said. "In the first half we came out and started chucking a lot of 3s. Coach (Johnson) said from the start, we've got to get easy shots, look inside, and just take longer possessions and make Wayne defend us."

Grinsfelder led Homestead with 18 points, the most he'd scored in a game since a loss to Marion on Dec. 7, and had eight rebounds. He also made all eight of his free throw attempts, all of which came in the second half. As a team, the Spartans hit 11of 12 free throws while the Generals were just 14 of 23. 

Homestead junior forward Luke Goode scored 13 points and had 13 rebounds and seven assists, and sophomore forward Andrew Leeper scored 11. 

Zak Krueger, who had missed stretches of the season because of back problems, came off the bench in the second quarter. He hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter and put the Spartans up 45-29, but also picked up four fouls and played just under 9 minutes. 

"If he's running well, we'll use him," Johnson said. "At times he looked good, at times he looked a little slow. Hit a big 3 at the end of the third quarter, and I'm happy for him about that. But we'll use him sparingly when he's able to play."

Wayne ends the season with a record of 8-11 under first-year coach Byron Pickens. The Generals shot 5 of 9 on 3-pointers in the second half, which helped keep the game from getting out of hand. Senior guard Quincy Miles scored 16 points in his final high school game, and senior forward Jaquan Kizer scored 14. 

The Spartans move on to face South Side on Friday. Huntington North, which beat Columbia City 46-44 in the first game on Tuesday, will play New Haven in the early semifinal on Friday.


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