Sectional basketball play kicks off today, with South Putnam hosting North Putnam at 7 p.m.
The Eagles narrowly defeated the Cougars, 57-56, Feb. 3. Those who were at the game, likely won't forget it, as it was a down-to-the-wire, heart-racer, that had everyone on the edge of their seat.
Down three points with just three seconds remaining, North Putnam had one last chance to win the contest after a questionable flagrant foul call. As a result, Brayden Dahlstrom calmly knocked down two free throws to bring the Cougars within one point, giving them a clear-cut chance of winning the game.
However, the ensuing inbound play failed, and the Eagles walked out the victors.
Matt Hicks led the Eagles that night, putting up 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field, while Lee Fordice led the Cougars with 20 points on 6-of-14 shooting.
Once again, this will likely be the matchup to watch, as both are senior forwards, fighting for their last breath. Hicks is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, while Fordice is putting up an average of 13.4 points and seven boards per contest.
Whoever can draw the most attention in the middle will open up more shots for their perimeter players.
The Eagles mostly utilize a four-guard lineup, with Zach Rhine, Drew Christy, Greg Chestnut and Ben Anderson all seeing consistent time in the starting lineup, while the Cougars will likely start Tyler Trent, Jake Mullis and Brayden Dahlstrom in the backcourt, as well as Riley McGaughey in the frontcourt alongside Fordice.
Chestnut and Christy will look to knock down shots for the Eagles, making Hicks' job easier inside. Chestnut is averaging around 11.5 points per game, shooting nearly 45 percent from three-point range, while Christy is putting up approximately nine points and five assists per game.
Mullis is leading the Cougars in scoring, averaging 15.7 points and 4.6 assists per game, while McGaughey is putting up 15.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest.
Together, McGaughey, Mullis and Fordice will be the focus of the Eagles. If they can contain them, the Cougars might have trouble putting the ball in the basket.
Key players off the bench for the Cougars will be seniors Colby Ensor and Cory Fordice inside, while the Eagles will be looking for high-energy minutes from Marcus McKinney off the bench.
The winner will move on to face Cascade in the semifinal Friday at 6 p.m.