We all thought we knew what would happen Friday night at Homestead.
Considering how the SAC has gone this year, Bounce should have known better.
It was supposed to be a convincing win for the Spartans over rival Carroll, what with the return of senior point guard Zak Krueger after missing nine games with a back injury. Couple that with the absence of Chargers leading scorer Jalen Jackson (sidelined with a knee injury) and Bounce felt safe when penciling in a victory for Homestead, giving them a chance at at least a share of the SAC championship.
Instead, Ray Vollmer, Richie Gross and some unsung heroes led Carroll to a 61-53 victory, the latest in a series of unforeseen developments in the SAC this season.
The win did nothing for Carroll, which needed North Side to beat Bishop Luers and South Side to knock off Snider for the Chargers to win the league. Neither happened, but Coach Marty Beasley’s team did get a boost of confidence as they improved to 16-4 with two regular-season games remaining.
How did Carroll do it? By getting some production from a mix of veterans and lesser-known players. Vollmer and Gross finished with a combined 29 points, while junior Cody Burkey (starting for the injured Jackson) held his own with five points.
But perhaps the biggest individual surprise for Carroll was Zach Castator. The junior entered Friday with a TOTAL of 10 points scored all season long. Against the Spartans, he scored nine.
The game was effectively decided in the first quarter when the Chargers took an 18-7 lead. Carroll’s advantage would shrink to as few as four, but Homestead was never able to overcome Carroll’s hot early-game shooting, even when Luke Goode turned it on after half following a two-shot effort in the first two quarters to finish with a game-high 21 points.
Bounce should have anticipated what happened Friday at Homestead. After all, the SAC has been wild throughout the 2019-20 campaign.
While Bounce did give more credit to Bishop Luers than most local media pundits in picking the Knights to finish sixth, it was still quite the surprise to see Coach Fonso White’s team eventually capture the SAC championship outright following their 54-40 win over North Side on Friday.
Meanwhile, a Snider team that once again had title aspirations entering the year will finish without an SAC Holiday Tournament title or a regular-season championship.
And what about Carroll? Which if it had found a way to knock off either Snider or Bishop Luers in the regular season it would be champs outright.
Unpredictability is fun. We never knew what was going to happen every week in the SAC. Even a one-win North Side team showed some moxie late in the year by giving some teams a tougher challenge than expected.
Parity is exciting, but there is definite concern heading into the playoffs, particularly in 4A. Can a Carroll, Homestead or Snider put things together enough to potentially win sectional and regional titles? Or do our hopes of a deep postseason run from a team in the area rely on the likes of Blackhawk Christian and Norwell?
In a few days, we will begin to over-analyze the sectional draw as do every year. Can Team A beat Team B? Should we seed the tournament?
All that will be well and good, but we would be remiss not to appreciate what was a pretty damn entertaining SAC season.
Congratulations to Coach White and Bishop Luers. What could have been for nine other teams.
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