FORT WAYNE – Intense. Competitive. Nervous. Delighted. Dejected. Loud.
And that’s just the crowd.
Homestead and Concordia aren’t in the same IHSAA basketball classification. They’re not even in the same conference. But because they’re two of the big dogs in the area, Saturday night’s brawl before a shoehorned crowd inside Concordia’s gym had the old-time feel of Hoosier Hysteria at its zenith.
In the end, with Concordia playing keepaway as it clung to a two-point lead and Homestead trying to save precious seconds by fouling, the Cadets dropped six free throws in the dying moments for a 55-48 victory.
It was the seventh win without a loss for Concordia, and the second loss for Homestead in eight games.
What it wasn’t was a seven-point game, despite what the scoreboard said.
What it was was a cage fight, including the cage that surrounds most of Concordia’s sunken gym.
It had a different kind of feel tonight, largely because Homestead’s good, Concordia coach Josh Eggold said. They’re a team that has got very capable players at every position; there aren’t many weaknesses you can find with them. It was, at this time, two pretty good teams playing against each other.
They took turns hammering onto one another, these two.
Concordia was first, taking a 15-10 first quarter lead.
Homestead was better in the second, outscoring the Cadets 20-6 for a 30-21 halftime lead.
Concordia roared back in the third with a 16-2 run that helped it to a 43-37 lead going into the final quarter.
But Homestead couldn’t get back in front.
When Trevor Osborn drained a three-pointer off a dish from fellow guard Nick Gamble, the Spartans caught Concordia at 45-all with 3:37 remaining. But Concordia junior D.J. McCall hit an easy layup off a spin move with 3:16 left to send the Cadets in front 47-45.
It was the two points that Concordia so desperately protected, particularly beginning with 1:54 left.
For a minute, 15 seconds, the Cadets played keepaway until Marq Rogers was fouled with 39.2 seconds left. He made both free throws to set the pattern.
Crucial turnovers at crucial times of the game all added up to where they were able to get the lead, we had to foul, and they hit ’em and we didn’t, Homestead coach Chris Johnson said.
The two biggest dogs – Concordia’s 6-7 Brian Gremaux and Homestead’s 6-9 freshman Caleb Swanigan – all but canceled each other out with six points each.
He’s a tank down there, Gremaux said of Swanigan.
Osborn was the only Homestead player in double figures with 16, while McCall had a dozen for Concordia, and Thomas Starks had 10.