Homestead entered the SAC for the 2015-16 girls basketball season.
The program hasn’t lost a regular-season conference game since.
The Spartans are 36-0 in league games and have captured all four SAC championships.
It is an impressive feat to be dominant, but also a little boring.
Can any team challenge Homestead this year? Could South Side be ready to slay the giant? Could Northrop be a contender?
Or will it be another unblemished league campaign for the Spartans?
Most teams that graduate seven seniors need time to rebuild, but most teams are not Homestead. Senior Sydney Graber is an OTH First Five selection and a commit to Central Michigan, while classmate Rylie Parker is a floor leader and one of the top three-point shooters around.
Sophomore phenom Ayanna Patterson developed considerable throughout her rookie year. Now one year older and wiser, expect Patterson to shine even brighter in Year 2.
With a wealth of role players and promising underclassmen, the Spartans are once again as deep and talented as anyone in the league.
While the South Side Archers lost three times to Homestead last season, it was South that took down the Spartans two years ago in postseason play.
With veterans Jaci Jones, Alaya Chapman and Lamyia Woodson leading the way, as well as sophomore Olivia Smith (who doesn’t get the respect she deserves because of Patterson), the Archers have the firepower to contend with the Spartans.
But can South put together a full 32 minutes of basketball without letdowns? That is what cost the Archers in all three of their showdowns with Homestead a year ago.
Northrop won “only” 13 games a year ago but lost just a single major contributor. Do TiAuna White, Destiny Jackson and others have what it takes to battle Homestead for the SAC championship?
Bishop Luers has had recent success against Homestead, having knocked the Spartans out of the SAC Holiday Tournament two years ago.
With a trio of talented players leading the Knights this year in Lydia Reimbold, Dori Javins and Kennedy Glenn, might this be the season that Bishop Luers can knock off the favorite again?
Expect a much different looking Carroll Chargers team when it hits the floor. Coach Mark Redding’s roster of players fits more an up-tempo style rather than the half-court game that Carroll has employed in years past. Keep an eye on junior Emily Parrett, who could make a big jump in the scorebooks after averaging close to 13 ppg last season.
Veteran coach Steve Wiktorowski takes the helm at Bishop Dwenger for Cleveland Inge. Will we see a significantly-different style of play as well? Wiktorowski has significant experience coaching at the college level, which could impact how he leads a high school squad. Molly Ream feels like she has been at Dwenger forever, but will be the leader of this team in her senior campaign.
Nautica Rogers and Carissa Garcia have graduated, leaving Concordia Lutheran looking to replace its top two scorers from a 17-win team. The leading returning scorer is junior CC Calloway at 5.5 points per game. Coach Dave Miller may need some time to get on track with new contributors.
There were Snider games last year in which Da’Leshia Davis was the lone offensive threat. With Davis gone, who steps up? Payton Gorman (9.1 ppg) is a good place to start, but sophomore Niesha Anderson (5.4 ppg) may be the big offensive threat to emerge for the Panthers.
Longtime Carroll assistant Michael Wallace takes over at his alma mater North Side. A program that has for a long time been an afterthought has gotten an injection of hope with Wallace, who will be able to get girls to commit to the program. The dividends may not be seen for a few years.
Lacia Gorman won just one game in her first season coaching Wayne. It may be another year of struggles, but Gorman knows the game. Once she gets a roster full of girls committed to getting better, the Generals will become a tougher team to handle in the SAC.
Ayanna Patterson of Homestead was already a household name in girls basketball circles in the area before she even played a single high school game. After some shaky outings early, the freshman found her groove for the Spartans last year after the new year. She averaged 12.9 points and 7.6 rebounds in her rookie campaign.
Teammate Sydney Graber of Homestead has seemingly been a player to watch for the last half-dozen years on the southwest side. Now a senior, Graber will take on more of a leadership role to go with her prowess in slashing to the bucket and finishing around the rim. She is a true inside-out threat.
Jaci Jones of South Side has been starting for four years, but has seen her role change with the addition of Olivia Smith. Jones was the primary point guard for the Archers early in her high school career, but that has given way to being more of a two guard now. She averaged close to 13 ppg last year, but it is her energy and tenacity on both ends of the court that makes her truly one of the best in the conference.
PLAYERS ON THE RISE
Jas Combs of South Side is one of the players that Coach Juanita Goodwell will be counting on to help increase the depth and scoring effectiveness of the Archers. Look for Combs to emerge as more of a scoring option in her junior season.
Delaney Bailey of Bishop Luers could be one of the breakout stars of the SAC this season. After being limited to just nine games last year as a transfer from Homestead, the then-sophomore averaged 8.6 points and five rebounds per contest.
Meg Barkley of Concordia averaged over 24 minutes a game for the Cadets last year, but scored less than 5 points per contest. That was OK with Carissa Garcia in the fold, but now with the star gone, Barkley will need to step up on the offensive end for a team searching for scorers. It is a good bet that the junior will do just that.
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