After being down nearly the entire contest Friday, the North Putnam boys' basketball team made a spirited run in the fourth quarter.
However, it wasn't enough.
The Cougars came up short, falling to the Eagles on Homecoming night, 57-56 in a classic Putnam County thriller.
"I think it's a huge win," South Putnam Coach Kyle Brewer said. "Anytime you can get a conference win on the road against a county rival, it's big for your confidence."
Matt Hicks led the Eagles, scoring 25 points on 7-of-10 field goals, while Drew Christy added 13 points.
South Putnam led throughout the majority of the contest, until North Putnam's Riley McGaughey netted a three-pointer from Brayden Dahlstrom, giving the Cougars a 50-48 lead with 2:29 remaining.
The following minute saw five lead changes in 1:29, as the two rivals battled back and forth. With South Putnam leading 55-54, Derek Anderson sealed the game, grabbing a defensive rebound and knocking down two free throws, giving the Eagles a three-point lead with three seconds remaining.
However, a South Putnam player committed a flagrant foul on the inbound pass, giving North Putnam one last chance with only a few ticks remaining.
"I felt that our player was going for the basketball. Sometimes that happens," Brewer said. "The official had a different angle."
Dahlstrom knocked down both free throws with two seconds remaining, bringing the Cougars within one point at 57-56.
However, a botched inbound pass, left the Cougars with a desperation three-pointer, which fell short at the buzzer.
Despite losing the game, North Putnam Coach Wes Peek was pleased with the way his team played.
"If we would've played this game on day one, they would have beat us by 25," Peek said. " We've gotten a lot better from the start of things. We're smarter players, we play extremely hard and we execute things."
The Cougars were down as many as 11 points early in the third quarter, before getting the Eagles into foul trouble, knocking down foul shots down the stretch. The Cougars were 23-of-24 from the free throw line in the second half alone.
Lee Fordice led the Cougars, scoring 20 points in the game, including hitting 8-of-8 free throws in the second half. Jake Mullis had 15 points in the game, all of which were in the second half, while McGaughey added 13 points.
Fordice led all players with eight rebounds, while both teams played solid defense, forcing a combined 36 turnovers in the game.
"I thought we defended really well all night," Peek said. "We played pretty good on the glass. But you can't turn the ball over as many times as we did and expect to win."
South Putnam improves to 9-8 on the season, while North Putnam falls to 6-8.
The Eagles host Northview Thursday at 7:30 p.m., while the Cougars play at Rockville Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
"They're young," Peek said. "They play in a very good basketball environment, and they'll be a tough team to beat."
At North Putnam
South Putnam 10 16 10 21 -- 57
North Putnam 7 13 11 25 -- 56
South Putnam -- Rhine 0-2 2-2 2, Christy 6-11 0-0 13, McKinney 0-0 0-1 0, Anderson 2-5 2-2 7, Chestnut 3-6 0-0 7, Tomasino 1-2 1-2 3, Hicks 10-17 4-6 25. Totals FG 20-43, FT 9-15, TP 57.
North Putnam -- Trent 1-3 2-4 4, Dahlstrom 1-6 2-2 4, L. Fordice 6-14 8-8 20, McGaughey 4-5 4-6 13, Mullis 3-9 9-10 15, C. Fordice 0-0 0-0 0, Ensor 0-0 0-0 0. Totals FG 15-37, FT 25-30, TP 56.
3 pt. -- South Putnam 4 (Christy 1, Anderson 1, Chestnut 1, Hicks 1), North Putnam 1 (McGaughey 1), Rebounds -- South Putnam 19 (Hicks 5), North Putnam 24 (L. Fordice 8), Assists -- South Putnam 9 (Tomasino 3), North Putnam 8 (Mullis 2, Ensor 2, Dahlstrom 2), Steals -- South Putnam 6 (Christy 2), North Putnam 11 (L. Fordice 3), Blocks -- South Putnam 3 (Christy 3), North Putnam 3 (L. Fordice 3), Turnovers -- South Putnam 18, North Putnam 18.
Next game -- South Putnam hosts Northview Thursday at 7:30 p.m., while North Putnam plays at Rockville Thursday at 7:30 p.m.