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Written By Ink Free News / Sports on Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Kaylee Patton draws contact rom Homestead’s Rylie Parker down low during a game at the Tiger Den Tuesday. (Photos by James Costello)

WARSAW — Homestead was every bit as good as advertised in a very convincing, 48-26 defeat of host Warsaw at the Tiger Den Tuesday.

But the Lady Tigers knew the Spartans — ranked No. 3 in the IBCA’s single-class poll — were going to be very good. The point was to test themselves and to learn from it coming into the homestretch of the regular season.

“All in all, it’s just a game to prepare us for what really comes next,” explained Warsaw assistant coach Kelsie Herman. “We went through a really rough stretch at one period of time, and through that stretch we did a lot of learning, we did a lot of lifting, we did a lot of heavy mental work, a lot of heavy physical work. That all just kind of prepared us for that next, 10-game stretch. This is another heavy lift, and now we’re just preparing ourselves for that final stretch of the year to see how are you going to bounce back, how are you going to weather that storm and then come back with something great?”

The visitors jumped out to an 11-5 first-quarter lead but hadn’t really taken control until a 13-5 second stanza left the home team trailing by double digits at the half. Things didn’t get much better from there as Homestead pushed its advantage out to 20 points midway through the third. The Tigers managed to outscore the Spartans 13-12 in the final frame, but it was too little, too late to put a dent in their deficit.

Homestead held Warsaw to 8-of-27 (29.6 percent) shooting in the Tigers’ lowest offensive output of the season. The Spartans capitalized on a distinctive size advantage and also a greater level of physicality to throw the home team off its offensive game plan.

“They have a solid, strong defense. They’re very aggressive, very physical. It’s one of those things where it hits you, and you have to hit back in order to be successful,” said Herman.
We struggled to hit back a little bit in that middle stretch. The first stretch we did a decent job. We really started out defending well but just struggled to score.”

Audrey Grimm is trapped by Amber Austin and Rylie Parker.

Homestead parlayed that same size advantage into 24 points in the paint and a 19-of-40 (47.5 percent) shooting clip from the floor. Six-foot-three sophomore Ayanna Patterson put up 11 points with nine rebounds, while senior swing Sydney Graber finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists to lead the Spartans (19-1) to their 11th straight win.

“It’s one of those things we’ve just got to have a little bit of help side and that physical side just working on giving her a little bit of a nudge here and there just to offset her, kind of do what they were doing to us,” said Herman of her team’s defensive effort in the front court. “Just get her off of her balance… and getting out of her normal routine of her shot, of your flow.”

Warsaw had not a single player in double figures although Kaylee Patton was close with nine points, and Kacilyn Krebs finished with eight for Warsaw, which dipped to 13-7.

The Lady Tigers will host Concord in their Northern Lakes Conference-capper Saturday at 7:45 p.m. Warsaw sits at 5-1 in the NLC behind 6-0 NorthWood, which will play host to Goshen in its NLC finale Saturday.

“Playing a hard game ahead of that just to prepare yourself for what’s going to happen, it’s a really good eye-opener to things. We have a decent part of the week to prepare for Concord, and how are we going to prepare now?” asked Herman. “What are we going to learn from this in order to transcribe it into something great? Otherwise, if we’re not learning from it, there’s no purpose in playing it. We’re going to take this, and we’re going to learn from it in preparation for the last little stretch of the year.”

Meanwhile Tuesday, Warasw’s JV won a hard-fought, 36-35 decision against their Homestead counterparts.

Marin Hart hit a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left to lift her team to the win. She finished with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds, followed by Zoe Bergan with eight points and 10 rebounds. Cora West scored seven points, and Hannah Hatfield finished with six.

Posted In: Girl's Sports > Basketball