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As expected, a 6-foot-8 forward for Homestead stepped up in a big spot to lead the Spartans to victory on Friday night.
While five-star sophomore sensation Caleb Swanigan finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds, it was his frontcourt mate Dana Batt that was the player that truly brought it in a big way in a 53-46 win over Concordia Lutheran.
With Swanigan relegated to the bench with a pair of offensive fouls in the first quarter, the junior Batt showed that the Spartans have another big man in the paint to contend with. He helped Homestead keep the lead it had when Swanigan left the game and then helped Homestead hold off a Concordia Lutheran rally in the second half beside his teammate in the paint.
Batt finished with 19 points and six rebounds for the Spartans (8-3), and displayed some versatility offensively both around the basket and with short jumpers. He also accounted for a pair of blocks and helped hold Cadets senior and IUPUI commit D.J. McCall without a single point on the night.
McCall finished 0-for-6 from the field but did grab nine rebounds and add five assists for the Cadets (3-4).
“We are continuing to work on (Batt's) footwork, but he is 6-8, long and has a good move under the basket,” Homestead coach Chris Johnson said. “He can shoot a 15-foot jump shot. (It is a) great 1-2 punch for us (inside).”
Batt did not begin playing basketball until he was in eighth grade, putting him significantly behind in terms of development compared to other kids his age. But his feel for the game as well as his skills in the post have grown over the last few years.
This year, the learning curve has grown steep as he ventures into his first sustained playing time with the varsity.
“It is definitely an adjustment, the speed of the game is much faster at the varsity level,” Batt said. “Now it's kind of finally starting to click for me where everything is becoming automatic where I can play and compete and be able to do a good job on the floor.”
Batt was able to prove that on Friday. With both himself and Swanigan in the game in the second half, Homestead's 2-3 zone defense became next to impossible to penetrate, forcing the Cadets to take 26 three-pointers in the game.
Of those, 11 fell for Concordia Lutheran which kept Coach Josh Eggold's team close, including just a one-point deficit with the ball several times in the fourth quarter.
“We wanted to make it where it was difficult for (McCall) to drive to the basket,” Johnson said. “Teams are going to have to shoot the ball from the outside to beat us. We are very long.”
Swanigan is the one that gets all the hype and praise, but Batt is just as big of a piece of that frontcourt defense that limits what opposing teams can do around the basket.
And on offense, Batt makes the most of his opportunities.
“(Swanigan) is not a five-star recruit for nothing so (teams) are definitely adjusting their defenses around him and double- and triple-teaming him,” Batt said. “I think that really helps me out because it gives me a lot better matchups.”
The fact that Batt stepped up in the absence of Swanigan in the first half and helped knock off a solid team like the Cadets was a big lift for the junior.
“(This game is) a huge confidence booster for me,” Batt said. “I definitely would say this is a breakout game for me.”
HOMESTEAD 53, CONCORDIA LUTHERAN 46
Concordia: Tharp 12, Kindig 7, Brown 6, Paradine 7, Weikart 6, Bergdoll 8.
Homestead: Skowronek 2, Curry 13, Ray 3, Swanigan 16, Batt 19.