The Spartans lost just twice last year and it was to the same team, the eventual Class 4A state champions from Noblesville. So here is the yearly reminder: Homestead Spartan basketball is THE standard in the Outside the Huddle area.
Even when they don’t go far in the postseason. Even if they stumble in a game in our out of the conference. Even when we have them ranked 4th in the preseason and not 1st. Homestead is THE standard.
The Spartans attempt to run it back in the conference and their Sectional starts in the capable hands of senior Alison Stephens, who has seen her priority and ability rise each of her varsity seasons. Stephens has a trajectory a bit like Sydney Graber, who really forged her own path and rose up brilliantly as senior for Homestead in 2020. Stephens averaged 13 points and five rebounds per game last season and is Homestead’s leading returner in each of those areas.
Back with her is a backcourt trio that can really get after it defensively. Molly Stock (8.8 points, 4.5 assists per game) is back for another varsity season and has succeeded as her role has constantly changed for the Spartans. She is joined by fellow senior Evie Bottoms (2 points/2.5 assists per game) and junior Emma Reust (4.6 points/4.5 rebounds per game). The three are all tremendous on ball defenders for Homestead.
“Homestead will look to play an up tempo game centered around on guard play,” coach Rod Parker said.
There is plenty of excitement on the reloading area for Homestead this season as they will bring in one of their best freshman classes in Parker’s tenure and there are a lot of people talking about it.
Myah Epps, Gabby Helsom and Whitney Ankenbruck make up that freshman class that are all expected to contribute immediately on the varsity level for Homestead.
Epps could take over pretty quickly at point guard where she has shined on lower levels and throughout this past summer while Ankenbruck is a strong three and D threat with a high end motor that can fill it a lot of areas on the wing even if she is used as a shooter more than not. Helsom may have to chip in rebounding the ball as this is a smaller Spartan team but she has a really nice jump shot that she will likely be consistent with all over the floor.
“Teamwork, consistency and the ability to compete every possession will be the team’s primary focus,” Parker said.
This is Homestead after all. They don’t fall, they don’t rebuild and they just reload.
Lucky for them, it is not a complete reloading as they return some heavy talent from last year’s squad that has multi year varsity experience. Homestead is Homestead and they are going to get theirs. It always helps to have one of the best coaches in the state running the show.
Expect Homestead to be in the thick of the SAC and Sectional talk again and for good reason. Homestead isn’t going anywhere and anyone who expected them to was fooling themselves.
WHY NOT HIGHER?
Depth is kind of a question for the Spartans. They have the bodies capable of doing some really good things, be it returners or new faces including that freshman class that is predicted to be monsters.
But, lets be honest: nobody has been forced to do that heavy of lifting in recent memory behind McDonalds All-American Ayanna Patterson. Are they capable? Certainly. But they haven’t had to yet.
Once they have to and once they do, then the Spartans could rise quickly. But for now, they sit just outside of elite with heavy potential on their side.
January 13 at Snider
There are a lot of big games on the Homestead schedule and lets face it, there always are. But something feels different about this one again this season. The SAC may or may not be on the line, who knows? But what will be on the line is end of the season momentum as we. approach Sectional play.
Both of these teams should be at their peak near this point well into the season and a bit removed from the holiday break. Homestead and Snider is going to be fun again and knowing there may be a title still up for grabs makes it a bit more exciting.
Myah Epps, freshman
The next freshman with a ton of hype for the Spartans is Epps, who had a killer summer and heads into her high school career with heavy D1 interest, talk and an offer.
Epps comes from a great basketball family when it comes from either IQ or skill set and she can really put it all together. Sure, time always tells how that converts to a varsity level as a freshman but every indication is that she will shine out of the gate as a longer point guard who can create well and has excellent court vision.
If Epps develops quickly…or is ready to contribute at a high level day one, then the sky could be the limit for Homestead again.