FORT WAYNE — The Carroll boys basketball team closed out conference play with a road win over Homestead, defeating the Spartans 61-53 Friday and gaining some retribution for a late-season loss at home last year.
“We didn’t forget the loss last year at home, and I felt like we took that and it motivated us for this game here at Homestead,” Carroll senior Ray Vollmer said. “… Just playing solid for 32 minutes was what we were talking about this whole week. I know they can hit shots, they’re a good team, they’re consistent — they play just like us.”
The Chargers’ bench was put to task Friday, as Jalen Jackson, one of the team’s leading scorers, watched from the sidelines with an injury. In the end, it was a team victory, with the Chargers claiming a first-quarter lead and never giving it up.
“We had a lot of guys come off the bench and step up for us, and I think that was a big part of the win tonight,” Vollmer said. “Everybody knew that (Jalen) was going to be out and it was expected. There were a lot of emotions coming into it for him, but we didn’t take it into consideration as being a problem to getting a win today.”
The Chargers took an 18-7 lead in the first eight minutes of play, forcing the Spartans to shoot largely from the perimeter. Homestead missed four 3-pointers, making way for an 8-0 Carroll run to close out the quarter, including a last-second three by Vollmer, who scored eight points in the quarter.
The Spartans went on to outscore Carroll 17-13 in the second quarter thanks in part to 3-pointers by Luke Goode, Zak Krueger and Andrew Leeper. Homestead changed the script by limiting Carroll to no more than four unanswered points. Leeper, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, tacked on seven points to lead Homestead with 10 points through the first half. That was matched only by Vollmer, who was limited to just one basket in the second quarter.
Staying hot on Carroll’s heels, Homestead came within four points of the Chargers after halftime with the help of back-to-back threes by Grant Simmons and Patrick Raudenbush. However, Carroll’s Ryan Preston and Richie Gross scored the final four points in the quarter to extend the Chargers’ lead to eight going into the final eight minutes.
Goode kept Homestead in it with 13 fourth-quarter points despite five straight points by Carroll’s Zachary Castator pushing the Chargers’ lead to 14 early on. In the end, the Chargers were able to finish Homestead off at the free throw line, making 10 of 13 from the charity stripe, compared to Homestead’s six of seven.
Goode scored a game-high 21 points for the Spartans, while pulling down six rebounds. Leeper added 12 points in the loss. Vollmer led the Chargers with 15. Gross and Preston each scored in double digits for Carroll as well, putting up 14 and 10 points, respectively. Preston also led the Chargers’ rebounding efforts with seven boards.
“Sharing the ball is what we’re about, and we did that for 32 minutes,” Vollmer said.
Although neither team was able to clinch the conference title Friday, Vollmer saw the win as healthy momentum leading into sectionals.
“It’s a great win going into playoffs to gain our confidence,” he said. “It’ll carry on into our postseason, I hope. We had a great run at (the SAC title).”
Bishop Luers won the conference outright Friday, defeating North Side 64-50.