Evansville Reitz came into the State Championship game only having one really tough test, a loss to Southport at the end of the year. Homestead had a few more tough games throughout the season but both teams knew this was going to be the toughest game of the year.
Both teams started slow in the first couple minutes but halfway through the first quarter they started to take off. Early on it was Dana Batt for Homestead leading the charge. He was huge on the glass grabbing rebounds and converting on the offensive rebounds he was grabbing. Homestead made life difficult for Reitz as they outrebounded them 24 to 9 in the first 16 minutes of play.
Dana Batt had 13 points and 7 rebounds at the break and was 6-7 from the field. Reitz didn’t have a way to stop him and maybe for the first time since the Southport game, the Panthers were not controlling the game.
Homestead did so well early on to set a pace and tone for how they wanted the game to be played. However, Reitz is deep enough and talented enough that they were able to keep themselves close and they did that at the free throw line. They went 9 of 10 from the charity stripe and it helped to make up the scoring difference against Homestead’s 58.6% first half shooting.
Then, in the second half it was a role reversal. Reitz came out on a 10-2 run to start the second half. Alex Stein and Mario Barnes were big to get them a little breathing room quickly after the start of the second half.
Evansville Reitz did well to drive at the rim and got Jordan Geist and Dana Batt in foul trouble. Batt had to sit a ton and eventually fouled out, only contributing 4 points and 4 boards in the second half.
The second half really belonged to Alex Stein. The senior guard hit 4 of 6 from the field after the break and a pair of those were big three-pointers down the stretch. That along with Dru Smith’s defense and creating turnovers really made things seem like Reitz was about to pull out a big run.
Reitz led 71-63 with 1:56 left in the game. Then came the run. Dana Batt was fouled out and Jordan Geist was playing with four fouls. Caleb Swanigan was doubled every time and Homestead needed someone else to step up. Enter in Tahj Curry.
Curry first found a cutting Swanigan at the rim and cut the lead down to six. Then he stole the ball in transition, got fouled and made both free throws to get it to four. Stein then made a pair to push it to six again but Swanigan matched him on the other end. Ben Skowronek tipped the next inbounds, Curry grabbed it and laid it in to get within two. Then, one more time, Curry stole the inbounds and got an easy layup at the rim to tie it and send it to ovetime.
In the extra period, Reitz was on their heels and Homestead went right at them. Homestead got the lead as big as six but at the end Reitz was able to get it within one but it came on a Jaelan Sanford three at the buzzer and it was too late. Homestead was able to outlast Evansville Reitz 91-90 in overtime.