SHOOTER: South Side uses lessons from the past, powers by Homestead in the sectional opener
I’m not surprised.
Predictions are predictions, but I’m not surprised. I’m not surprised that South Side played with toughness, or that it played with fire and intensity in its 64-62 win over Homestead on Tuesday night in the opening round of Class 4A sectional play.
And I’m not surprised the Archers.
They were, after all, the team most built for this; built over 4 years for success in 2018. They have lost some pieces and gained some pieces, but it was always about this year. What I am surprised by is the manner in which the Archers toppled Homestead. This team has long been a team of emotion. They have won with emotion, to the tune of 20 games, and they have lost with emotion. It helps drive that fire that I spoke of earlier. It is how they win, and it can be their downfall in games, whether the scoreboard aligns their way at the end of the night or not.
On Tuesday, South Side didn’t play with emotion.
Yes, the Archers played emotional, but not with raw emotion. On Tuesday night, South Side (20-4) was a machine.
The Archers learned from their first game with Homestead earlier this season, a 58-55 loss that helped lead to the Spartans’ third straight undisputed conference title. But this was not January 5 and the Archers showed the growth they have put forth in the last four years. Learn from your flaws, correct them and just do better.
“We learned that they are a very good team and have a lot of good shooters,” said South Side senior Taniece Chapman said Homestead. “We had to get out on shooters and we had to just fight hard. We knew we had to come together as a team and we couldn’t let our emotions get to us.”
Tuesday was about doing better from the get-go, as the Archers sparked an energetic drive to open up a lead in the first quarter and never really had to look back even as the Spartans gained on them. Yes, there were Homestead runs, getting as close as three points midway through the fourth quarter. Homestead even got it down to two points forcing South Side to make a play to get the ball inbounds with 0.8 seconds left.
Getting that inbounds in the closing second of the game to clinch the win had to have been somewhat nerve-racking. The Archers, I’m sure, were not ignorant of Homestead forcing a late Northrop turnover with a five-second call to clinch the conference title less than a week ago.
“It feels really good. I don’t know what to say, I’m just excited,” said South Side senior Shamari Tyson immediately after Tuesday’s win. “We had to outplay them and play with more heart. We had to play disciplined defense.”
For Homestead’s part, it at times dared the Archers to be proficient shooting the ball. And South was, with huge three-pointers at opportune times off the hands of Jaci Jones and Shamari Jackson. But even better than that for the Archers, they learned the first time how they could slice up the Homestead defense.
Repeatedly, Tyson, showing as much machine-type work as we have ever seen from her on the high school level, more than once got to the basket for an uncontested layup and scored 19 points in the win.
“I knew if I was a step ahead of them, I could get to the basket and finish,” Tyson said.
Chapman, who is as emotional of a player as you will see, simply went to work to the tune of a game-high 22 points, with 13 of those coming in the first half. If the ball was down low, she was taking it up strong. Don’t box her out? She will get a rebound and she will put it back in.
Like a well-oiled machine.
A machine that is by no means done yet. The sectional draw was what it was, everybody knows Shooter’s feelings on that. But this was always going to be the game that South had to get by, that final hurdle in claiming Fort Wayne as its own this year.
While it should’ve happened Saturday in a championship game, it happened on Tuesday instead. So now instead of attempting to vault through Huntington North and either Wayne or Muncie Central to get to Homestead, the Archers were forced to handle the heavier work first.
And while all of that work is not done, rest assured that the Archers will sleep a little bit easier heading into the weekend.
“It definitely takes a lot of stress off because people didn’t believe that we earned a spot here but we kept pushing and fighting and used ourselves as motivation, used our fans, our ‘Section K’ and our coaches as motivation,” Chapman said. “We didn’t let anybody stop us and we aren’t going to let anybody stop us. We are going to keep fighting because we deserve a spot.”