Homestead and South Side came down to the final seconds last year in the IHSAA Class 4A Girl's Basketball Sectional 6 final. This year, it came down to the final minute, as the Spartans hit critical shots to pull away and win 79-70.
Here are five keys to the Spartan victory:
1. Answer South Side's runs
Homestead never trailed after the first quarter but that doesn't mean the Archers didn't push them. The Spartans never led by double digits until the final few seconds as South Side routinely pulled within a possession or two. Every time,
though, Homestead had an answer. Whether it was a Sydney Buck 3-pointer, a Josie Fisher drive to the basket or a critical stop, it never let South Side tie or get ahead.
2. Free throws
If you had asked before the game who would lead Homestead in scoring, Karissa McLaughlin likely wouldn't have even been in the top two or three. Thanks to her clutch shooting at the foul line she was just that with 28 points. In the fourth quarter she went 10-for-10 there, including twice hitting both free throws after South Side had pulled within four points. That's pretty big pressure shooting for a freshman.
3. Capitalizing on turnovers
South Side plays a fast, pressure style game. They create turnovers in the process but also give a few up. The Archers started the game by turning it over on their first four possessions and then throughout the game Homestead took advantage.
Fisher routinely was the benefactor as she got fastbreak layups four times.
4. Closing the half strong
Leading by three points with three minutes to play in the first half, Homestead took control. It ended the half on a 10-4 run, including three 3-pointers, including one just before the buzzer, to extend the lead and take a nine-point lead into halftime with all the momentum.
5. Sydney Buck
It can't be understated what this senior means to Homestead. She scored 22 points and almost all of her baskets seemed to come at critical moments. She is this team's best player and leader and she answered the call every time the Spartans needed her against South Side.