When it comes to rivalries on the hardwood in the Summit Athletic Conference, things tend to ebb and flow.
For awhile, Snider and North Side was the marquee matchup on the boys side.
While no one has really been able to consistently touch the Homestead girls since its arrival in the league, though Carroll was able to play spoiler twice last year. South Side and Bishop Luers had a great thing going prior to the entry of the Spartans, as well as Concordia Lutheran with both the Archers and Knights.
But recently, it has been the showdowns between Homestead and Snider that have become the go-to events in the league. On both sides, the established Spartans and pesky Panthers continue to meet with high stakes and exciting games, backed up on Friday night with a pair of classics.
Perhaps it was fate that the teams split the girls-boys doubleheader at Homestead, with the Spartan girls holding off a furious Snider rally for a 71-66 victory in the opener before Karson Jenkins and the Panthers handed Fletcher Loyer and Homestead their first defeat in the SAC in a close 74-69 decision in the boys game.
In both games, talent clashed with talent and with it, the emotions and excitement rose from the big crowd in attendance.
In the girls’ game, Snider was putting a 12-game winning streak on the line and cut a double-digit deficit down to as few as four multiple times in the second half. Ayanna Patterson asserted her dominance with 30 points and 16 rebounds, but the Panthers put up a fight, their second in two years against the Spartans after falling by four in regular-season action last season.
Senior Jyah Lovett led the Panthers in scoring with 26 points in the close loss, but with the team’s next four leading scorers for the year all sophomores, this budding rivalry isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
It was must the same on the boys’ side, with Homestead and Snider trading blows over the course of four quarters, similar to a pair of showdowns the squads had two years ago. The Panthers were able to steal the momentum late with the superb shooting prowess of Karson Jenkins. Time and again he elevated from the mid-range to bury shot after shot, finishing with 39 points.
Snider was able to force Homestead into mistakes with turnovers and used its run-and-gun style to attack and not allow the Spartans opportunity to set up their half-court defense. When the Spartans were successful in their half court defense, Jenkins still proved a big problem.
Offensively, Loyer did his thing with 31 points while Grant Leeper and Grady Swing added 11 each, but no Spartan could hit the big shot late that would bring Homestead all the way back. The game ended with Aidan Lambert taking the ball away from Loyer and finishing with one of his big, customary dunks; it was a poignant final statement.
As the dust settled from Friday, Homestead remained atop the SAC on the girls’ side in a commanding position as the lone undefeated remaining. For the boys, Snider ousted Homestead from the ranks of the league unbeaten and opened up plenty of intrigue over the next month-plus in the league where Concordia Lutheran now stands alone at the top of the standings.
The common denominator Friday? A big crowd and a pair of exciting games means that Homestead and Snider has become THE showdown to watch in the SAC, both boys and girls. The fact that both fan bases travel well and have sizable student sections makes it all the more exciting.
The on-court action did not disappoint on Friday. Don’t expect that to change between these schools anytime soon.
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