Homestead boys basketball coach Sean Crider like the way his team played for much of its 65-62 North Shore Conference win over Milwaukee Lutheran on Dec. 13.
He was pleased with its poise under fire, as the Highlanders rallied from an early deficit and improved to 3-1 overall. He was also very proud of 6-9 forward Jack Quinlevan's career-high 30 points.
He just wishes the Highlanders had made it a little easier on themselves coming down the stretch.
"They got hot towards the end," Crider said. "We were up 11-12 points heading towards the end, and then they hit a bunch of 3s. We hit some free throws, but they had a chance to tie it at the end. It was a decent look, but it didn't get there."
The Highlanders' regularly scheduled game with Port Washington on Dec. 16 was snowed out and was made up on Dec. 21. Homestead will take part in the WBY Shootout at Concordia University. They will play Marquette at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 27, and then then will play Brookfield Central at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 29. The two teams are considered among the elite of the Greater Metro Conference.
Crider is looking forward to the push the Highlanders will get in those contests.
"One thing I've noticed about this team, is that I don't think that it is even close to achieving its potential," he said. "With that being said, I'm still glad that we're winning tight games. Not getting rattled at all."
Making tight games a little less frequent will be a topic of discussion and practice this week for the Highlanders. They were only 14-of-27 from the foul line in the win over Lutheran, including several misses down the stretch.
"We're not a good team in that regard yet," Crider said. "We do take a lot of free throws in practice. We're going to get better, because we're too good of shooters not to shoot free throws better than we are. It's all mental."
Fortunately, they did not catch up with Homestead against Lutheran.
The Highlanders did show good poise in the beginning, falling down 29-14 late in the first half.
"But we were able to close the half on a 17-5 run, and that let us tie it up (at 35-all)," Crider said. "We just became a little more patient, got it inside a little more often."
Especially to Quinlevan, who hit eight of 13 free throws and 11 field goals en route to his 30 points. Almost all of his damage was done inside, Crider said.
"He took one 3 early, and then I told him to get his tail back into the post," Crider laughed. "He was an animal tonight."
Homestead made a push to get the lead up to that 11-12 point mark, but then the Red Knights rallied behind five 3-pointers from K.J. Daniel (21 total points). Fortunately for the Highlanders, he was one trey short of sending the game to overtime.
The Highlanders also got help from Garrett Mitman (11 points) and Greg Foster Jr. (10).
"It wasn't the greatest finish," Crider said, "but games like this will help mark our progress."