It was a game that saw nine ties and 10 lead changes.
But with less than 1:53 left, Homestead's Seth Coate made two free throws to take a 72-62 lead. The 10-point margin was the largest of the night, coming at the right time as Homestead (16-4) pulled away late against Snider (9-9) to win 77-69 at Homestead Friday night.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Homestead was ahead 57-55 but got off to a quick start to make. Coate hit a leaning layup on the first possession of the quarter. Then Nick Gamble picked Snider's Leander Williams and went the length of the court for another layup.
After a defensive stop, Homestead went inside to Caleb Swanigan who got a basket inside to give Homestead a 63-55 lead just two minutes into the fourth quarter.
Snider pulled it back to within three after five straight points, but it wouldn't add to the amount of ties or lead changes in the fourth quarter.
“It was big (to start the fourth quarter strong),” Gamble said. “We don't want to lose at home ever, but when they made that run to get back into the game, we just had to focus more on defense and try to turn our defense into offense.”
Despite giving up 69 points, it was a switch in the second half defensively that helped Homestead. The Spartans switched to 3-2 and 2-3 zones to force Snider to shoot more from outside.
After hitting seven 3-pointers in the first half, Snider couldn't find the same shooting touch against the zone. In the first half the Panthers shot 64 percent from three but that fell to 31 percent in the second half.
“When we went to man a little bit they were able to get to the basket more than what I was hoping for them to get,” Homestead head coach Chris Johnson said. “So, we went into a 2-3 zone and a 3-2 zone just to try to make them shoot some jump shots. The first half they were hitting a lot of shots, but I thought our defense got a little bit better the second half.”
While the two teams were close until the end, it may have been less about the teams as two individual players trying to outdo each other early on.
Homestead's Gamble put up 11 of his game-high 21 points in the first quarter, but Snider's Aaron Washington wasn't to be outdone. Washington scored 16 of his 20 points in the first half, which included hitting four 3-pointers.
“I was just trying to get off to a good start, and I didn't worry too much about the senior night (festivities),” Gamble said. “I tried not to get too nervous or whatever, the jitterbugs. I just wanted to come out aggressive and the shots were falling.”
Homestead's Caleb Swanigan helped Gamble's night. The freshman was one rebound away from a double-double as he had 18 points and nine rebounds.
Even with Swanigan's presence inside, Snider's big men kept the Panthers alive in the second half when the outside shots stopped coming. Josh Spitnale had 11 points and Devlyn Williams had 10 as each had five rebounds, with 14 of those 21 combined points coming in the second half.
“We came out in the third quarter and wanted to isolate Devlyn and get him going, and we did get him the ball on a little roll to the basket against the zone on the first possession,” Snider head coach John Todor said. “But our shot selection, we took some contested shots when we should have swung the ball. We took contested shots and they didn't fall.”
SNIDER 69, HOMESTEAD 77
Snider 17 19 19 14 — 69
Homestead 19 21 17 20 — 77
Snider: Covington 6, Washington 20, Halstead 5, Williams 9, Lowe 2, Harvey 6, Spitnale 11, Williams 10
Homestead: Osborn 12, Ault 1, Smith 2, Gamble 21, Togashi 12, Coate 9, Geller 2, Swanigan 18