Homer boys basketball coach Jim Huffman said this moments after the Trojans went into Hanover-Horton and handed the Comets their first loss of the season 67-61 on January 20. Although the game was tight throughout, the Trojans snagged a lead early and never let go of it, despite a flurry of Comet runs throughout the game.
The Trojans (9-0 after the Hanover-Horton win) have eight seniors on the roster – including their starting five.
“These guys have been playing together for awhile now,” Huffman said. “They know where they’re supposed to be on the court during games and practices, and they know where their teammates are supposed to be. They can almost coach themselves.”
But there’s more to this Trojan team than toughness, poise and senior leadership on the basketball court.
“I’ve had more fun coaching this team than I’ve ever had,” Huffman said. “This is just a unique group of kids and they’re just a lot of fun to be around. They know what’s expected of them, they know what’s expected of each other and they just go out and execute.”
During the 2013 football season I had a chance to cover the Trojans for JTV during their run to the state semifinals, which culminated in a loss to Detroit Loyola on a frigid day in November. During the run, as the entire Homer community went along for the ride, the prevailing theme – developed during pregame tailgates, in-game conversations and post-game chats in parking lots – was just how enjoyable the kids were to be around and how much the seniors truly appreciated the moment.
“We’re just having a lot of fun out there,” senior Alex White said after the win over Hanover-Horton. “It’s always tough coming into a place like this and getting a win, but our team has been together so long and we’re so used to each other that we know we can do it.”
White, the quarterback on the football team, was fantastic in the win over H-H. He scored 23 points – mostly on aggressive moves to the basket – and calmly went 12 of 13 from the free throw line.
But his name on the basketball roster is one of many that are familiar to football fans. Seven of these basketball Trojan seniors were part of the football team’s magnificent run in the fall. In addition to White the names of Kyle Winchell; Tyler Ridgeway; Tyler George; Nate Sickiewitz; Tyler Mosher; Jon VanMeter and Dylan Thomas filled key slots on the football team’s roster.
And just like the football team was disciplined, passionate, hard-working and a lot of fun to be around, so is this basketball team.
“These kids are special,” Coach Huffman said.
Not the first time I’ve heard that when covering the Homer Trojans.
And as the basketball season rolls on, and this group digs into the meat of its’ schedule and readies for tournament play in March, I might end up hearing it again.