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Homestead beats Reitz for 2015 4A Title

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Class 4A: Homestead nips Evansville Reitz in OT

Homestead High School senior Caleb Swanigan (50) slam dunks the ball during the second half of the Class 4A boys' basketball state finals, Saturday, March 28, 2015 in Indianapolis. Homestead High School won in overtime 91-90. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

One minute, the Evansville Reitz fans were chanting, “This is our year!” The next minute, Homestead was celebrating its first state title in school history.

In a stunning comeback, Homestead rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final 2 minutes of regulation and closed out Evansville Reitz 91-90 in overtime of the Class 4A finals on Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“We kept our heads up,” said Homestead junior Tahj Curry, who came up with two game-turning steals during the comeback. “We were down by six against Carmel (in the regional) with 3 minutes left. We weren’t going to hang our heads. We knew we could come back and win this.”

There probably weren’t many in the crowd of 12,862 that agreed with Curry. When Homestead’s 6-9 Dana Batt, the team’s most consistent offensive threat to that point, fouled out with 3:20 left, Reitz led 67-58. The Spartans chipped away but still trailed 73-67 with 1:21 left after two free throws by Alex Stein.

After that, though, things fell apart.

“We just didn’t handle the ball,” Evansville Reitz coach Michael Adams said.

Homestead’s 6-9 Caleb Swanigan hit two free throws to make it 73-69 with 1:09 left. Curry then stole the inbounds pass and scored to cut it to 73-71. After a timeout, Curry scored again off a turnover to make it 73-73.

Reitz, normally sure-handed a tough against pressure, worked it down for a final shot. Stein, who led the Panthers with 26 points, missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer. Dru Smith rebounded but was unable to get a clean look.

“I thought we had total control of the game,” Adams said. “We just didn’t finish. Critical turnovers.”

Reitz (29-2) scored first in overtime, but Homestead ripped off a 9-0 run to take control. Reitz battled back to make it 89-87 on a 3-pointer by Jaelan Sanford with 18.3 seconds left but Jordan Geist pushed the lead back to four with two free throws with 9.2 seconds left.

Sanford made another 3-pointer but time ran out as Reitz was out of timeouts and unable to stop the clock.

Homestead (28-2) was off to celebrate its first championship, while Reitz will surely replay the final two minutes of regulation for a long time.

“This is a great group of young men,” Homestead coach Chris Johnson said. “It’s sad to know it’s over. But I’m going to take about a month off and start up again in May and figure out what we need to do for next year.”

The 181 combined points set a record for a championship game since class basketball started in 1997-98. It tied the all-time record set in 1994 when South Bend Clay beat Valparaiso 93-88 in overtime. It was also the first overtime game in Class 4A.

Photo/Article Indy Star

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