BOYS HOOPS PREVIEW: #1 Homestead Spartans

Homestead’s Fletcher Loyer, Andrew Leeper, Luke Goode and Grant Simmons

Having a Division I basketball player on your high school roster is something that does not happen often in northeast Indiana.

But having two? Now that is something to be excited about.

That is where Coach Chris Johnson and the Homestead Spartans find themselves entering the 2020-21 season – with Luke Goode (Illinois) and Fletcher Loyer (Purdue) both heading to Division I in the next few years.

“Anytime you have two Division I players on your team, it is a good starting point,” Johnson said. “Luke and Fletcher with what we have returning in addition to them, expectations are high. We just have to stay healthy and hope things fall our way.”

Goode and Fletcher are similar in a lot of ways, both can fill the bucket – Goode 17.6 points per game last year and Loyer about 22 points up in Clarkston, MI a year ago. The duo are also exceptional shooters and can get the ball up the floor. In fact, Loyer will be the predominant guard at the point for the Spartans, taking over the spot vacated by the graduated Zak Krueger.

But Krueger is not the only big loss for Homestead. Alec Grinsfelder averaged 11.3 points and 6.7 rebounds a year ago, while Jake Archbold was arguably the Spartans’ best on-ball defender.

The loss of those two players leaves a void at an aspect of the game that Johnson believes could be the biggest question mark for his team.

“We lost some guys who liked to mix it up and bang,” Johnson said. “Hopefully we have some guys who can step up in those roles of getting after it on every possession and keeping people off the boards.”

The two primary candidates to step up into those roles are sophomore Andrew Leeper and senior Grant Simmons. The pair combined for nearly eight rebounds a game last year and have the strength to initiate and handle contact.

But even then, Homestead lacks a proven forward who can clog up the middle and bang in the post.

“When we go against players with some beef to them, that is going to be a question,” Johnson said.

Two more seniors will see increased minutes in Quinn Harmon and Kaleb Kolpien. Both are 6-foot-4 are can command some attention inside.

A pair of Carmel transfers will also add some depth for the Spartans in brothers Caeden and Kyron Kaopuiki. Caeden is a senior shooting guard while Kyron is a sophomore who could see action running the point.

Last season, Homestead finished 16-9 but did not win a championship of any kind for the first time since 2012-13. There were a lot of instances last year, namely in the sectional against New Haven, where the Spartans were stagnant in the half-court, as if teammates of Goode were waiting for him to nail an outside shot.

Johnson has stressed more diversity in this year’s offense, although Goode and Loyer both have the potential to be lights-out from the perimeter, while also threats to attack the basket.

“If our three-point shot is falling for us, we can be difficult for anybody,” Johnson said. “But we do not want to be as dependent on that three-pointer. We do not want it to make or break us depending on if it is falling.”

That said, the Spartans’ strength will be its outside shooting prowess, and with it will come opportunities inside the arc as defenses have to float outside.

Homestead’s Luke Goode defends the post during a December 13, 2019 game at Bishop Dwenger.

WHY #1?

Armed with a pair of Division I talents in the backcourt in Luke Goode and Fletcher Loyer, Homestead is poised to be one of the top-shooting teams in the area.

But what sets this squad apart from the rest in northeast Indiana is just how versatile it will be – much more than a year ago. Secondary scorers will be key to this team living up to its potential, and Andrew Leeper may be poised for the breakout season we have been expecting.

With a solid cast around the pair of top talents, the Spartans are SAC favorites and have the potential to make a deep run in Class 4A.

CRITICAL GAME

JAN. 12 VS. BLACKHAWK CHRISTIAN

OK, maybe this isn’t a critical game considering it is not a conference contest nor are the teams in the same class, but Luke Goode against Caleb Furst for the final time at the prep level? Sign us up.

Throw in Fletcher Loyer and you have a trio of Division I prospects who could see more of each other at the college level.

But let’s enjoy it in the confines of a high school gymnasium one last time…

CRUCIAL PLAYER

ANDREW LEEPER, JUNIOR

It was around the middle of January last season when Leeper started to find his rhythm as a sophomore for Homestead. At 6-foot-5, the forward will need to be a more consistent presence both in the box score and in the intangibles, including interior defense and physicality.

The Spartans will be deadly from the outside, but the abilities to clean up rebounds and bang with post players will be paramount, putting the focus clearly on Leeper.

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