SHOOTER: Homestead captures SAC with win over Northrop, but greater accolades await for both

Homestead's Sylare Starks lofts a shot during Friday's game against Northrop. The junior finished with 22 points. (By Justin Kenny of news-sentinel.com)
Homestead senior Lauren Selking and Northrop freshman TiAuna White battle for a rebound during Friday's game. (By Justin Kenny of news-sentinel.com)
Sophomore Sydney Graber of Homestead gets a shot off over Northrop's Breanna Douglas during Friday's game at Homestead. (By Justin Kenny of news-sentinel.com)
Northrop's Breanna Douglas drives the lane on Sydney Graber of Homestead on Friday. (By Justin Kenny of news-sentinel.com)
Lauren Selking of Homestead finishes around the rim in Friday's game against Northrop. (By Justin Kenny of news-sentinel.com)

We can be thankful that we experienced at least some intrigue when it came to crowning a champion in the SAC this season.

After all, the previous two years had been dominated by Homestead in a fashion that lacked much in the way of competitiveness.

But Friday’s 67-64 victory by the Spartans over Northrop to clinch SAC title No. 3 gave Shooter and some of his closest pals out at Homestead quite the experience.

Not only was it a good game between two solid teams — something we have not seen much since Homestead joined the SAC — it also gave us a glimpse into just where the Spartans and Bruins are both at entering the start of the postseason next week.

The verdict? Both are very, very good.

While Northrop (19-3) did fall short on Friday, Shooter saw enough to consider the Bruins the favorite in next week’s Carroll Sectional.

While both Niomi Dube (21 points) and Morgan Hughes were deadly for the outside in a hot shooting night for coach Rashida Muhammad’s squad, it was Breanna Douglas that played like the best player on the floor. The second half was dominated by Douglas as Northrop opened up the offense and went isolation with Douglas defended by Sydney Graber. Time and again Douglas drove to the inside and finished a bucket, got fouled or both.

The senior finished with 22 points.

“Douglas was very difficult to handle in the second half,” Homestead coach Rod Parker said. “I was really happy with our resiliency.”

How much did the Spartans have to overcome on Friday? Well, a seven-point deficit in late in the second half for starters. Homestead was able to trim that to two by half.

Northrop was deadly all night from long-range, while the Spartans were cold from the field. Homestead finished 2-of-22 from beyond the arc.

“I don’t think I’ve ever coached a Homestead team that shot 2-of-22 and came out with a win,” Parker said. “It says a lot about the fact we are growing up as a team and did the little things to win.”

It also helps to have Sylare Starks playing as a legit contender for News-Sentinel Player of the Year honors. Her driving lay-up with less than five seconds to go in regulation broke a 64-all tie and helped secure the victory.

The senior was also deadly from mid-range. Her pull-up from 10-15 feet is as smooth and accurate as anyone in the area. She finished with a team-high 21 points.

With a showdown coming up with sectional host South Side on Tuesday, Parker and the Spartans (19-2) had a game they absolutely needed against Northrop — one that offered adversity and the opportunity to overcome it.

“After the game, we talked about the fact that coming off an intense game tonight we are going into an intense game on Tuesday,” Parker said. “The environment is going to be similar on Tuesday. Mentally and physically we know what we are going to face.”

With a combined 38 wins, Northrop and Homestead achieved plenty in the regular season. But next week is when it counts, and both have a great chance at earning some hardware next weekend.

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