Coach Rod Parker lifted his arms to the rafters in celebration.
Homestead 61, Pike 54, final.
The Spartans' first-ever state championship in girls basketball came with plenty of challenges. Pike was as aggressive on the boards and on defense as any team Homestead had played this season. Every time Homestead appeared to be in control, the Red Devils had an answer.
But the final answer Saturday came from the Spartans, led by heavy Indiana Miss Basketball favorite Karissa McLaughlin and fellow seniors Madisen Parker and Jazmyne Geist.
"We were mature and we handled (the game) with poise," said McLaughlin, who finished with a game-high 29 points. "We knew exactly how to finish the game."
In big moments Saturday, Homestead not only survived, but thrived. It made plays when it needed to, eventually out-executing Pike down the stretch.
While some of that confidence and moxie was built throughout this season, falling short in previous years was a big aspect as well.
A half-dozen years ago, Homestead was in the midst of a 13-year sectional title drought. After a run of success in the mid-90s, the program was struggling to compete with the top teams in northeast Indiana and beyond.
But then, things began to change. The Spartans won 19 games in the 2009-10 season, then added 22 more and a sectional crown a year later. Regional titles soon followed, with a trip to the state finals in 2015.
As Parker's team improved, he refined his coaching and scheduling methods. He challenged his team more in the summer and during the season, taking his squad on the road against some of the region's best. He tweaked his approach here and there as he built a program not riding the success of one particular player, but rather one based on a fundamental team approach.
Before there was Karissa McLaughlin, there was Sydney Buck. Before there was Sydney Buck, there was Carmen Lowe and Emily Bley. Before there was Carmen Lowe...well, you get the idea.
While a dozen-plus players went home Saturday with the big trophy and blue medals around their necks, this Homestead state championship was built over years of work from dozens of players and season after season of incrementally getting better and aiming higher.
While previous Spartans teams laid the groundwork, this team made it happen.
"Two years ago (after losing to Columbus North), we were here on the (awards) stand and Madisen reached over on the stand and said, 'We got two more years Karissa, we are going to get one,'" Rod Parker said. "I'm real excited they got one."
More InformationCLASS 4A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
HOMESTEAD 61, PIKE 54
Homestead (28-2): Parker 6-15 0-0 17, Kline 0-1 0-0 0, McLaughlin 8-18 11-14 29, Swing 2-4 1-2 5, Geist 3-8 2-3 8, Gealy 0-0 0-1 0, Graber 1-5 0-1 2. Totals 20-51 14-21 61.
Pike (24-4): Roberson 9-15 0-2 18, Rascoe 2-11 4-4 8, Baker 5-25 3-4 14, White 6-12 0-2 12, Garrard 1-5 0-0 2, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Geisler 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-69 7-12 54.
Three-point shots: Homestead 7-18 (Parker 5-12, Kline 0-1, McLaughlin 2-5), Pike 1-11 (Rascoe 0-4, Baker 1-6, Geisler 0-1). Rebounds: Homestead 43 (Geist 12, Swing 10), Pike 40 (Rascoe, White 9). Assists: Homestead 11 (McLaughlin 6), Pike 5 (White 2). Turnovers: Homestead 17, Pike 8. Total fouls: Homestead 12, Pike 19.