Swanigan, Spartans flex muscle against Bellmont, 66-39
FORT WAYNE— The largest school in the NHC extracted revenge on Bellmont Monday night as Homestead blasted the Braves on the hard court 66-39.
The football Braves' victory over the Spartans in the fall may still have been fresh on the minds of some of the Spartans who were on that team because the home team played like men on a mission in the game scoring the first 10 points of the game.
Coming off of a win at home over East Noble, Bellmont was simply outmatched on the court against the physically bigger Spartans headed up at center by 6'8" super-sophomore Caleb Swanigan.
The Braves' game plan was to tighten up the 2-3 zone to keep Swanigan from the scoreboard but it immediately back-fired as the Spartans made four threes right out of the gate including three in a row from Tahj Curry who ended with 11 in the game.
It was Parker Zeser's three that got the Braves on the board with five minute to play in the first. A Logan Baker triple was sandwiched between two Curry shots and it was 18-6. Teddy Ray knocked down a three near the end of the quarter for the 25-6 advantage.
Neither team shot a free throw in the quarter and Homestead was the only team with a foul called tacked with three infractions. The Spartans nailed five treys in the opening quarter.
"The way they came out and shot the ball in the first quarter was pretty impressive," noted Baker. "We could have done better in closing out on them but I give them credit for the way they made five of them."
When the Braves came out with an adjusted plan in the second, the Spartans moved to the big man to continue the rout.
"It was tough to defend when they came out knocking down threes from the outside," admitted Bellmont coach John Baker. "Then they throw it inside when we adjust and Swanigan got going."
The center scored 13 of his 15 first half points in the second quarter including a dunk on a nice pass from guard Lucas Tapp during a fast break as the big man was crashing into the lane. At that point it was 39-11 before Jake Hall knocked down Bellmont's first free throws.
Curry's 15-foot jumper was the final basket of the half with just two seconds left making it 43-13.
Coach Baker searched for words to inspire his team at the half against the school three times larger in enrollment.
"We were down 30 at the half. We talked about just having a fight to us out there. Cam (Bienz) came out and really got us going on the defensive end getting tips and turnovers against their starters. Parker came on in the third quarter offensively knocking down some shots for us and it really gave us something to build on with the basketball."
Bienz played inspired defense causing early turnovers against the Spartans' starters. Despite the effort, though, the Braves went cold from the floor offensively and the lead build as high as 54-17 after a Maverick Birch jumper from the corner for Bellmont.