Posted On: 03/4/18 1:12 PM
Final Score: Homestead 40 – Huntington North 39
The first four minutes of this game were some of the best high school basketball played all season in the Fort Wayne area. Both teams came out of the gate ready to get after it on both ends of the floor and both were hot from the field. With that pace of play, and the atmosphere in the gym, it was setting up to be a great Sectional Championship matchup between two teams that hadn’t played since the first game of the season when the Vikings blew out the Spartans.
Sam Buck came out of the gate and knocked down back to back long balls to get the scoring started for Homestead. Onye Ezeakudo struggled to get it going from deep but was really good as a facilitator early in the game. He dished out a few assists for corner three’s that kept Huntington’s lengthy defense honest. Hank Pulver was able to keep the Vikings close with his six-point first quarter. After one, Homestead lead 12-11.
With this game being played at Huntington North, the Vikings still seemed to struggle from the floor. They relied heavily on the long ball to keep them in the game as Homestead was in a 2-3 zone for the entire game. When the ball did get into the paint or high post, the Vikings were successful on the offensive end. Mitchell Geller was dynamic last night with his impact. He is one of the better passing wings left in the Class of 2018. Huntington North had a strong second quarter and jumped out to a 21-18 lead at the half.
The third quarter was much of the same. The teams battled back and forth and there seemed to be a lead change every possession. The Vikings were able to retain the lead thanks to a pair of long balls from Joe Stoffel and Eric Williams. Onye Ezeakudo started to get it going by getting to the basket and finishing strong. He paced the Spartans all night aside from his struggles from deep. He managed to get his lone three-pointer as the buzzer sounded at the end of the third quarter. Homestead trailed 33-31 heading into the final frame.
Neither team had a comfortable lead throughout the game but just as the lead grew to five points for Huntington North, Homestead came storming back. Grant Raber stepped up in the fourth quarter to compliment the abilities of Ezeakudo. Mitchell Geller and Sawyer Stoltz attacked the offensive glass in the quarter to create second opportunities and maintain the lead they had built. In the end, the backcourt of Ezeakudo, Raber, and Goode were too much for the Vikings to overcome. Their offense stalled in the fourth and they struggled to get good, rhythm looks at the basket.
The Homestead Spartans are Sectional Champions with the final score of 40-39. They will advance on to the Logansport Regional next weekend with the likes of Fort Wayne North Side, Carmel, and Zionsville. Homestead will face Carmel in the first round of Regionals and will play the winner of Fort Wayne North Side and Zionsville.
Onye Ezeakudo was the best offensive threat throughout the game last night. His ability to create off the bounce helped spark the Homestead offense. He lead the game with five assists and could get anywhere he wanted too with the dribble. He didn’t have a great night from the field as he struggled to get it going from deep but was still effective when Homestead needed him most. Onye hit a big three at the buzzer to close the third quarter that shifted the momentum back in the favor of the Spartans. Homestead leans heavily on their senior guard to lead the way and will need a stellar performance out of him to escape the Logansport Regional next weekend.
Grant Raber is another senior guard who stepped up in a big way throughout Sectionals. His play towards the end of the season started to take off as he felt more comfortable making plays and helped set the tone on defense that the Spartans needed to get them through Sectionals. Raber has quick feet and is good at turning the opposing guards with his body and not his hands. He digs well on the bigs when they post up and is good at anticipating the offense before it happens. He shot the ball well from deep but was instrumental in slowing down the Viking offense as one of the head guys in the press and at the top of the 2-3 zone. Raber and the rest of the Spartan backcourt will have their hands full with Carmel’s plethora of good guard play. If they are able to advance past the first round, they will then see Isaiah Thompson from Zionsville or Austin Boucher from North Side handling the ball.
Mitchell Geller quietly put together a strong performance in what turned out to be his last high school game. The senior wing moved well through the 2-3 zone and was the creator of most of the good looks that Huntington was able to get. He flashed into openings with his hands high and is a great passer in traffic. He scored efficiently when he was able to get his own shots in the post and rebounded the ball well on both backboards. His length and basketball IQ are two of the assets that he brings to the position and he was a key player in the success of the Vikings this season. Still uncommitted, he is a player that could be a great fit in quite a few programs in the area.
Jake Archbold – 6 rebounds (3 defensive and 3 offensive), 1 assist, and 1 steal
Luke Goode – 3 points (1-4 3FG), 4 defensive rebounds, 2 blocks
Grant Raber – 11 points (0-4 2FG, 2-3 3FG, and 5-6 FT), 4 rebounds (3 offensive and 1 defensive), 2 steals, and 1 assist
Sam Buck – 12 points (0-1 2FG and 4-6 3FG) and 1 offensive rebound
Onye Ezeakudo – 13 points (4-4 2FG, 1-6 3FG, and 2-3 FT), 5 assists, 4 rebounds (3 defensive and 1 offensive), and 2 steals
Zachary Daugherty – 6 points (0-1 2FG and 2-6 3FG), 2 defensive rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 assist
Sawyer Stoltz – 6 points (1-2 2FG, 0-1 3FG, and 4-4 FT), 6 rebounds (4 defensive and 2 offensive), and 1 steal
Hank Pulver – 7 points (1-2 2FG, 1-6 3FG, and 1-1 FT), 4 rebounds (2 defensive and 2 offensive), and 3 assists
Mitchell Geller – 7 points (3-5 2FG and 1-2 FT), 8 rebounds (6 defensive and 2 offensive), 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block
Joe Stoffel – 11 points (3-5 2FG and 2-2 FT), 1 defensive rebound, and 1 assist