ABOITE TOWNSHIP - The Homestead Spartans used pressure defense and transition basketball to make a 15-0 run in the first 4:28 of the final period to streak past the Warsaw Tigers 54-31. The Tigers, who’ve entered this contest 2-0 on eight occasions, had their seventh bid for a 3-0 start spoiled by their hosts.

The Tigers jumped ahead early 8-3 with Luke Adamiec and Judah Simfukwe trading buckets before the Spartans knotted the score at the end of the period when 6’4” guard Fletcher Loyer, a Purdue signee,  nailed the second of his three treys for the night.

The two teams remained knotted at 17 after two quarters with Tiger guard Jaxon Gould scoring 7 straight points to keep the game tight.

The first half was a showcase of good defense for both teams. Nonetheless, the Tigers had opportunities to make additional runs had they converted on several shots near the basket. The Tigers had some early third quarter opportunities to score in the paint as well before the Spartans one of the first of two big runs.

Tiger head coach Matt Moore said, “We had such good offensive possessions in the first half that we did not capitalize on because of that we’re tied instead of plus 10, or plus 12 or whatever it could have been. They start letting loose and hit some shots, and we missed some chances to rebound and kind of snowballs on you, right?”

The snowball started rolling when University of Illinois commit, 6’7” Homestead forward Luke Goode, found his touch in the third quarter after Warsaw held him to a single point in the first half.

The game was tied at 19 early in the period after a bucket by Tiger guard Ben Bergen when Goode scored his team’s next 8 points as part of an 11-2 run over the next 122 seconds punctuated by Fletcher Loyer’s 3-point score.

The Tigers were trailing 30-21 closing out the quarter with four more points of their own, trailing 32-25 when the third stanza horn sounded.

Suddenly, there was a contagion of offensive touch among Goode’s teammates. The hosts’ Kaleb Kolpien scored two straight buckets fresh off the bench. Spartans’ 6’4” forward Grant Simmons, not to be outdone, reeled off 8 straight points. The 15-0 run was finished off, once again, by Loyer’s 3 points, this time from the free throw line after being fouled on a three-point shot attempt.

The Tigers, consequently trailing 47-25, finally broke their final quarter schneid with a free throw by junior Kyle Dawson with 3:31 left in the contest. The 6’5” post man scored all 6 of Warsaw’s points in the final frame as they headed toward their eventual 54-31 finish.

Remarkable items of note include a game whose total time elapsed was 68 minutes, and it was played with no fans in the gym due to Allen County COVID-19 restrictions.

More conventional stats of note, the remainder of the Tigers scoring included efforts by Judah Simfukwe (8 points 5 boards) and Luke Adamiec (8 points 4 caroms), Jaxon Gould (7 points, 3 feeds), and Ben Bergen (2 points).

Homestead was led by Loyer’s 16 points, Spencer’s 15 tallies, and Goode’s 14-point finish.

Moore was not surprised Goode had a little help from his friends noting, “They’ve been playing around success for a long time. So, when you’re a part of that and you’re a good player you’re going to figure out how to get shots and get to the basket. We broke down in the second half giving lane touches, and when we give lane touches, we might as well get back on offense.”

He continued, “You know we’re right there. I told them this is the third team we guarded at 40% or less. I’m proud of my guys and I’m willing to stick with them to get through it. I’m looking forward to seeing who we have tomorrow morning (during practice) and see what we are made of a little bit.”

The Tigers will have an opportunity to regroup immediately tonight when they travel to Huntington North with a JV tip-off at 6:00 p.m. The Vikings’ gym allows 25% capacity for interested fans making travel plans.

The JV Tigers fell short at the hands of their hosts 46-41. Drew Heckaman (15 points, 5 rebounds) and Kyle Dawson (12 points, 7 rebounds) led the way for Warsaw.