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HNHS, Homestead face off tonight

March 2, 2012
Huntington North High School

HNHS, Homestead face off tonight

AUSTAN KAS akas@h-ponline.com | Friday, March 2, 2012


Huntington North versus Homestead — the way it’s supposed to be.

The Vikings and Class 4A No. 9 Spartans, who haven’t played in the basketball postseason since 2009, will meet up on the hardwood at 7:30 p.m. tonight inside North Arena in the semifinals of the Huntington North Sectional.

Homestead (20-2) and Huntington North (5-18) opened the season back on Nov. 23, with the Spartans winning 85-71 in an up-and-down affair.

A lot has changed since then.

That was the Vikes’ first game under new coach Aaron Cripe. As the season progressed, Huntington North slowed its pace to a more methodical approach and found itself in a number of close ballgames down the stretch.

Homestead followed that season-opening victory with 18 straight wins, but the Spartans enter the sectional having lost two of their past three outings.

“The first time we played Homestead, we tried running up and down with them,” Huntington North point guard Noah Reed said Tuesday after the Vikes’ 60-50 opening-round win over South Side. “They ended up kicking our butt that way. If we slow down the game and play better defense, I think we have a good chance of beating them.”

Homestead is fueled by the duo Nick Gamble and Zach Terrell. Gamble, the Spartans’ primary ball handler, torched Huntington North in the opener, slicing through and around the Vikes on his way to 20 points. Terrell tossed in 17 points and buried three 3-pointers.

The Spartans used a 15-0 second-quarter run to take control. Gamble was the key cog, pouring in 10 points during the spurt.

“Homestead is a well-coached team,” Cripe said. “They’ve made some changes since the first time we played them. They’re going to play hard. We have to control Gamble’s penetration and know where Terrell is at all times. We have to key on those two.”

Levi Lawson paced the Vikes in the first meeting with Homestead, scoring 15 points. Kalvin Miller knocked down four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points. Brock Gower had 13 points, Trenton Kern netted 12 and Reed scored 10.

Miller (15 points), Reed (16) and Lawson (22) teamed up for 53 of Huntington North’s 60 points in the first-round sectional win over South Side. The victory was Huntington North’s second sectional win since 2004.

Reed, a junior, has scored in double figures in 20 of the Vikings’ 23 games. He’s taken it to another over the past six contests, averaging 19.6 points over that stretch with a high of 27.

Lawson said it will take contributions from the entire team to knock off Homestead, something the Vikes haven’t done since 2009. That year also was the last time Huntington North played in the sectional final.

“It’s going to take a group effort,” Lawson said following the Vikes win against South Side. “These next two days of practice are going to be very important. We’re right there. Anything can happen in the sectional. We have momentum right now. If we keep playing and keep hitting shots, we can do something big.”

On the other side of the bracket, Jay County (18-3) takes on Fort Wayne Wayne (8-11) at 6 p.m. tonight. The Patriots, the defending sectional champions, topped New Haven, 49-36, on Tuesday.

The sectional championship is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday night.

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