For the first three quarters and change of Blackhawk Christian's visit to Homestead on Tuesday, the last two undefeated teams in Fort Wayne matched each other shot for shot.
The Spartans would hit 3-pointers as the clock expired to pull ahead (Luke Goode would do so seconds before halftime, then Kaleb Kolpien did it as the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter), and the Braves would return fire inside, pulling even with a layup or a free throw.
But Homestead sophomore Fletcher Loyer finally broke through the stalemate, hitting a 3-pointer to put the Spartans up by three points. Blackhawk senior Caleb Furst answered with a bucket. But Loyer than sank a deep 3-pointer, bringing thrilled Spartans fans to their feet. Goode scored to stretch the Homestead lead to six, and when Loyer followed with his third 3 of the quarter, the Spartans were on their way to a 72-60 win.
Just like that, the No. 4 team in the state had knocked off No. 3, settling the debate – for now – of which Fort Wayne team is the best.
“It is so much fun to be playing right now,” Goode said of playing with the Spartans, and particularly Loyer, who moved to Fort Wayne this summer. “For us to even be playing right now in the middle of a pandemic is a huge blessing, because nobody knew at the beginning of the season what would happen. For us to get this far and have such a large stage to play on, it means so much.”
Goode also said that the game marked the end of an era of sorts, as it was the last time he and Furst, his close friend, would play each other as high schoolers, and playfully noted that he ends 3-1 against Furst's Braves.
The Spartans (13-0) and Braves (10-1) were tied five times in the first quarter alone and ended the first deadlocked at 16. A 3-pointer by Grant Simmons gave Homestead a five-point lead in the second quarter, but that advantage disappeared with back-to-back buckets and Lewis Johnson's lone basket of the game, as the Braves took a 30-27 lead. Before the teams went into the locker rooms, however, Goode hit two back-to-back 3s for the Spartans.
The fact that Blackhawk Christian was able to keep pace with Homestead for so long was notable, given that the Spartans hit nine 3-pointers, while the Braves went 0 for 17 from behind the arc. Furst finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds, Zane Burke scored 15 and had seven rebounds and Jake Boyer scored eight points.
Loyer scored 23 points, 13 in the fourth quarter. Goode scored 22 points, and Grant Simmons 10.
“We held him to 27,” Homestead coach Chris Johnson said wryly when discussing his team's defensive plan for Furst. “He's a big-time player.”