For more on high school basketball, follow Justin Kenny on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/jkenny_ns
Rarely this season has the “Homestead Towers” duo of sophomore Caleb Swanigan and junior Dana Batt faced a boys basketball team that can match up with them in both height and physicality.
But that is precisely what the two 6-foot-8 forwards will face Saturday against Lake Central in the Class 4A North Semistate at Lafayette Jefferson.
The Indians (21-3) are led by Butler signee Tyler Wideman, a 6-foot-7, 240-pound beast who is not afraid to mix it up in the paint.
Wideman is joined up front by senior Cory Dickelman (6-5, 205) to present a formidable challenge to the Spartans, particularly Swanigan and Batt.
“They have their bigs in terms of Wideman and some other fellas,” Homestead coach Chris Johnson said. “I'm sure it will be a very good battle between our guys and their guys.”
At regionals, both Kokomo and Hamilton Southeastern had difficulty matching up with the 280-pound Swanigan in particular, with Batt also causing trouble.
The Spartans were able to not only clean up a lot of junk around the basket on both ends, but also force teams to put the focus on the paint instead of challenging the Homestead backcourt with more ball pressure.
That could come Saturday as Lake Central may not have to rely on as much defensive collapsing with the height it can put on the floor.
“They are going to get up in our guards and people have been saying (to do that) for four months, so it is nothing new,” Johnson said. “We just need to make sure we stick to our game plan and run out style.
“They have big guys who crash the boards extremely hard, so we cannot allow second and third opportunities.”
Wideman averages 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds a game, and Dickelman chips in 6.1 points and 4.0 rebounds for Lake Central.
Swanigan has notched double doubles consistently this postseason. The hope is he can continue his dominance against the toughest interior competition he and Batt will have faced all year.
“They are very similar to us,” Johnson said about Lake Central. “It is going to be a battle between two very good teams trying to get to a title game.”
The Spartans (20-7) are entering unfamiliar territory with the first semistate game in program history. Johnson has made it a point not to make that a big deal this week.
“It doesn't matter whatsoever,” Johnson said. “You put yourself in position to be successful to get to this level.
“We are excited for the opportunity. The community is excited, the student body is excited … it should be a very good ballgame.”
The winner of Saturday's game will face either Indianapolis Tech (25-2) or Bloomington North (16-8) in the Class 4A state championship.