When the Homestead girls basketball team, pretty unsurprisingly, collected their third SAC Holiday Tournament title in four years on Saturday night, Rod Parker and company ended the debate. It took just four years, but this is Homestead’s conference in basketball. And that will make the heads spin of all the SAC old timers.
But it is time to accept it. The old NHC is long gone and Homestead is the premiere basketball school in the conference from top to bottom as of the closing days of the year 2018. It almost the cool thing to do for fans of some SAC programs to cheer against the Spartans, as well as Carroll, simply because they are still considered the new kids on the block. But Bounce is tell you now to get on board or get left behind.
Harding and Elmhurst are gone. And Homestead is, very loudly, here.
Need more proof: there were five SAC tournaments this year: a JV and Varsity for the girls and freshmen, JV and varsity for the boys. Homestead won them all. Every gender, every level, every title.
The school became just the third ever to capture both the boys and girls SAC Holiday Tournament titles in the same year. It happened first in 1985 when Northrop beat Snider on both sides. In 1997, Snider collected both titles, beating Wayne on the boys side and North Side on the girls end.
There is a reason the SAC wasn’t keen on adding Homestead and Carroll in sports outside of basketball and football: the level of athletic dominance permeated in sports like soccer, tennis or swimming. Maybe basketball should have been on that radar too.
Both programs have done it through tireless work ethic, perseverance and reloading. Parker and Chris Johnson have developed their systems to feature a next player up mentality and it gives them depth on each bench program wide. This season’s star girls players for Homestead include Sydney Graber, Haley Swing and Kara Gealy who all saw some fundamental step building minutes on the 2017 Class 4A state title team. When they lost a quartet of seniors from that team, those three stepped in other players stepped up from the junior varsity level.
The 2018-2019 Homestead girls team is the deepest team in the SAC. They go 10-12 girls deep almost every night because they can. Their domination in the semi final game on Saturday morning allowed them to not even play their starting five during the fourth quarter against Carroll. They didn’t do that in the finals, but their six to seven player core did their jobs.
Ayanna Patterson did the job of many as one of the best freshman ever in the Holiday Tournament with her three game performances.
Johnson’s boys team, who won the SAC Tournament on Friday night, returned just two players who saw any significant minutes a year ago in Zak Krueger and Luke Goode. The common fan didn’t know who Trent Loomis or Alec Grinsfelder were a year ago. Yet those two, like Xavier Overstreet, Zac Bradtmiller, Will Smith and others have become common names now thanks to the SAC Holiday Tournament run.
The basketball programs have now made five tournament final appearances in eight possible trips over four seasons. Their combined SAC Tournament record is 16-4.
BOUNCE’S GIRLS ALL-SAC HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT TEAM
Note: These selections are of my own opinion, as is all you read in my columns. This in no way is an “official” tournament team decided by the conference. They don’t do that. Maybe they should.
Tournament MVP: Ayanna Patterson, Homestead
Patterson’s championship game performance was unmatchable as she poured in 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. That came off a 21 point, 11 rebound effort in the Saturday morning semi final. She scored 16 points in a win on Thursday over Snider.
Bounce’s 1st Team All-Tournament
Ayanna Patterson, Homestead
Sylare Starks, Homestead
T’Lazia Morris, South Side
Jaci Jones, South Side
Nautica Rogers, Concordia
Bounce’s 2nd Team All-Tournament
Da’Leshia Davis, Snider
Sydney Graber, Homestead
Alaya Chapman, South Side
Carissa Garcia, Concordia
TiAuna White, Northrop
Bounce’s 3rd Team All-Tournament
Olivia Smith, South Side
Kara Gealy, Homestead
Destiny Jackson, Northrop
Katelynn Gray, Bishop Luers
Emily Parrett, Carroll