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  • Spartans guard Sydney Graber drives to the basket during the first quarter Friday against South Side. Graber finished with 16 points. (Photos by Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette)

  • South Side's Shamari Jackson, left, and Homestead's Kara Gealy fight for possession of the ball.  

Saturday, January 06, 2018 1:00 am

High School Basketball

Spartans win showdown

Homestead recovers from tourney loss to stay unbeaten in SAC by beating South

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

The Homestead girls basketball team learned from the reality check it was given with a first-round exit at last week's SAC Tournament.

The Spartans remained undefeated in conference play thanks to a 58-55 victory at South Side on Friday in a showdown of unbeaten SAC teams.

“(After the loss) the message was more of a mental message,” Spartans coach Rod Parker said. “This team has struggled to play a full 32 minutes in a game, and we talked about that. We were going to get snake-bit along the way because we'll play a good stretch of eight or nine minutes of basketball and then we'll let teams back in games.

“I thought that game was one that we went out there thinking that we were going to win because we were Homestead and that just isn't the case. ... I thought we played as a much more unified group this week.”

After wins over Lawrence North and South Side, the Spartans (15-2, 6-0 SAC) feel as if they're finally working together as a unit and the leadership component that had been missing is getting established.

“It took us a little while to find our roles because obviously this is a whole new team from last year,” junior Kara Gealy said, “but I thought all of us have done a really nice job stepping into our roles and knowing what each of us brings to the table to make us a successful team.

“Obviously the loss (to Bishop Luers in the tournament) motivated even more and to beat Lawrence North, one of the best teams in the state, really hyped us up, but we knew we couldn't look past South Side because obviously they're a great team. We came out with great team effort, we picked each other up and I thought we played really well together tonight.”

The Archers (15-2, 5-1) led 45-44 with 6:37 left after clawing back from a 42-31 third-quarter deficit.

The game was tied at 48 after South Side's Shamari Tyson hit a 3-pointer with 5:40 left, but Homestead responded with a 5-0 run and never trailed the rest of the way.

The score was tied at 26 at halftime after the Archers led 17-8 after the first quarter. .

“We were in the locker room (at halftime) and we talked about the first quarter, we were down 17-8, it was 26-26 at half,” said Sydney Graber, who helped the Spartans build a 42-31 third-quarter lead with an 8-0 run. “Coach said, 'We've came back this far, let's not stop now. We're still in charge.' Homestead's all about third quarters, we came back in the third quarter, pushed ourselves and got the lead.

Graber led the Spartans with 16 points.

“Ever since our first loss to Carmel, we've been working on breaking a press,” Graber said. “Our main focus has been getting the ball to the middle, pushing it so I think it really helped to break a press and we got a lot of points off the press.”

Sylare Starks added 14 for Homestead, and Gealy scored 12.

Tyson scored a game-high 23 for the Archers, and Jaci Jones added 14.

areichel@jg.net