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Sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest difference. In Homestead's 54-40 victory over DeKalb last night, the Spartans made a decision defensively that drastically altered the course of the game.
At the end of the first quarter, DeKalb had hit six of seven shots and the game was tied 15-15. Then Homestead made its little tweaks. Head coach Chris Johnson said the Spartans committed to not opening up defensively to limit DeKalb from driving through the lane. Senior Chris Gamble said the team just turned up its intensity. Two little things but the rest of the way the DeKalb offense was shutdown.
In the second quarter, DeKalb only hit one field goal, and then only three in the third quarter. The Barons shot 4/19 in the second and third quarters combined as they hit only one field during a stretch lasting 13:49.
“We gave up 15 (points) in the first quarter, then only gave up 25 the rest, two, three, four (quarters),” Homestead head coach Chris Johnson said. “I thought defensively was where we needed to be, but the key to that also was on the offensive end. (We) weren't taking such quick shots, we were making them defend, which then is going to wear their legs down a little bit.”
Just as important for Homestead to play solid defense was to get a lead. DeKalb doesn't force shots on the offensive end and Johnson was worried when the Barons held an early 13-7 lead. The Spartans responded by closing the quarter on an 8-2 run, including a buzzer beating 3-pointer from Gamble.
“That's the key against DeKalb, you don't want to be down at the end of the game,” Johnson said. “As soon as we got the lead, I felt a lot more comfortable because then they had to come out and chase us, and that's what is good for us because Gamble is so good at being able to get to the basket.”
With the DeKalb defense spaced out around the court, Gamble certainly took advantage. The guard led all scorers with 20 points by consistently getting inside for a layup or pull-up jumper. DeKalb was led by Austin Macy's 12 and Adison Daub's 11 points.
“We wanted to attack the basket more,” Gamble said. “I think we took too many jumpshots in the first quarter. Once we attacked the basket, I think that wore them down a little bit.”
In the second half, DeKalb was never able to get closer than seven points as it struggled to find shots against the Homestead defense.
“Sometimes the hardest thing to do when you are down eight or 12 is to be patient, and I kept begging (our players) to be patient,” DeKalb head coach Jon Everingham said. “Even though the feel is that you are way behind, it's really important to continue to show some patience in those situations.”
The win continues Homestead's NHC winning streak. Homestead (14-3, 5-0) has not lost in the conference since the 2009-10 season and the loss puts DeKalb (9-7, 3-2) out of the conference race.
DeKalb 15 3 9 13 — 40
Homestead 15 10 16 13 — 54
DeKalb: Adison Daub 11, Macy 12, Dahlton Daub 3, Hartman 9, Moore 4
Homestead: Osborn 6, Ault 6, Gamble 20, Coate 7, Swanigan 9, Togashi 4, Geller 2