Tuesday’s game between the No. 1 team in Class 2A and one of the perennial powers in northeast Indiana had all the makings of a great game.
Blackhawk Christian’s undersized gym was filled to capacity nearly a half hour before tipoff.
Homestead brought a large contingent of fans across town.
Even high-profile coaches were in attendance, with Roy Williams of North Carolina, Tom Izzo of Michigan State, Matt Painter of Purdue and Brad Underwood of Illinois all seated just behind the scorer’s table to watch the game.
There was a winner, with Homestead capturing a 69-55 victory. But you know what? It didn’t matter.
These teams aren’t in the same conference. They aren’t in the same class.
What we saw Tuesday night showcased all that is good with high school basketball in the state of Indiana.
The gym was packed and elite coaches were there because of two players – Luke Goode of Homestead and Caleb Furst of Blackhawk Christian. The pair of Class of 2021 studs are both being recruited by high majors. The matchup has been circled on the calendar for awhile, and the duo delivered.
Furst finished with 25 points on the night, while Goode scored 19 points while battling foul trouble in the second half.
They showcased their skills all night, with Goode showing outside shooting prowess while also showcasing his ability to finish in traffic on the drive.
Meanwhile, Furst battled double and triple teams all night, getting to the rim, knocking down short jumpers and calmly delivering at the free throw line to the tune of 9-of-10 from the line.
All the while, the college coaches watched, sometimes making a comment to another of their colleagues after a particular play or sequence. They are after the same thing, finding a difference maker in the Class of 2021 that can be the piece to help deliver championships.
Both Furst and Goode looked the part, both in how they performed on the court and how they handled themselves. The duo trains at Optimum Performance Sports in Fort Wayne and see each other a lot on the AAU circuit. They are friends. Following the mid-court prayer after Tuesday’s game, the duo found each other and shared a quick fist bump. The mutual respect is obvious, but they also know they delivered a show for the fans and impressed some coaches at the same time.
Indiana high school basketball in the northern half of the state has seen attendance decline. Fans turn out more to see individual players than elite teams. In rural southern Indiana, the Barr-Reeves and Jac-Cen-Dels of the world still pack their gyms as the town rallies around the high school, but up here, fans turn out to see Division I talent.
On Tuesday, that talent delivered. While Homestead’s lead never shrank below eight points in the second half, despite nothing truly being on the line in the showdown, the atmosphere was electric up until the final buzzer.
Goode and Furst are the faces of Fort Wayne hoops, and anytime they play against one another it is a show. It definitely was quite the scene Tuesday at Blackhawk Christian.
The best part of this story? The two are only juniors.
Main image by Leverage Photography
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