After two clutch three-point shots by Greg Chestnut and Drew Christy, the South Putnam High School boys' varsity basketball team retained the county bucket, defeating Greencastle, 72-68, in the Putnam County Classic Saturday.
For the second time in classic history, the championship game went into overtime and for the first time in history went into three overtimes.
The score was 48-45 with just seconds left on the clock when Christy stole a Tiger Cubs' inbound pass, lobbing it to Chestnut without looking for a three-point buzzer-beating shot, sending the game into overtime.
At the start of the first overtime, it was any team's game. Both teams hit its shots, and neither one could keep a lead for the win.
It was Matt Hicks, who was the backbone of the Eagles' offense all night, steping up and proving that the Eagles wanted to win the game. In the first over time he scored all eight of the Eagles points. With Hicks scoring nonstop, the Tiger Cubs had to pull something together and they did. With just one minute left in the first overtime, Brennan Burks was fouled and sent to the charity stripe for a chance to tie the game and send it into another overtime, which he did. Burks nailed both free throws and tied the game, 56-all with just one-minute left to play. The Eagles couldn't score again, forcing second overtime.
After the start of the second overtime, it looked like Greencastle was going to pull it off and win the championship, but it didn't happen.
The Tiger Cubs scored first with Michael Richardson hitting a pair of freebies from the charity stripe to take a short-lived lead. After Richardson's free throws, Christy drew a foul and got sent to the line for two, but was only able to hit one of his free throws, cutting Greencaste's lead to one, 58-57. Christy redeemed himself, stealing the ball to bring it back down for two, giving South Putnam a 59-58 edge, but it wasn't over yet. South Putnam fouled again, this time sending Cal Gard to stripe for two. Gard sunk both of them giving Greencastle a 60-59 lead with 1:20 left to go.
The future looked dim for the Eagles after Brian Troyer scored in the paint, pushing the Tiger Cubs lead to three.
The Eagles were in the situation of being down by three with just seconds left on the clock, and Christy saved the day again. As seconds ticked off the clock, he pulled up a three-pointer and let it go as the buzzer sounded, hitting it and sending the game into its third overtime, a first for the Putnam County Classic.
The last time the classic went into overtime was in 1993, when South Putnam beat North Putnam 71-66. Since the tournament started in 1973, there has never been a championship game extend into three over times.
Tied 62-all at the start of the third overtime, one of the teams needed to do something and it was the Eagles that did. South Putnam jumped out and took a three-point lead and kept it until Burks drove into the lane, scoring two points and drawing the foul. After Burks hit his free throws, Greencastle tied the game at 68-all.
With the game tied at 68 each, one of the teams needed a break and it was South Putnam that got it. Christy drove the ball into the lane, hitting the two-pointer. The Tiger Cubs fouled Marcus McKinney, sending him to the line for two. He hit one of his freebies.
Greencastle did not score on their possession, and the Eagles rebounded and drew the foul. Zach Rhine was the Eagle fouled and he hit one of his two freebies for the final.
"There were so many big plays in the game and there was an unbelievable effort by both teams and we were fortunate to come out on top," SPHS coach Kyle Brewer said.
After the first quarter of the game, nobody expected the game to go into overtime after both teams scored only four points and after the first half, no one would have thought the county championship would be decided in three overtimes.
After halftime, the game got interesting. Greencastle stepped it up and outscored the Eagles 17-15 for a small lead to start the fourth quarter with.
In the fourth period, it looked like Greencastle would win the game when Zac Remsburg hit a big three-pointer with 30 seconds left in the game, giving Greencastle a 46-45 lead, followed by Burks' pair of free throws for a 48-45 lead.
"We'll be able to pull some positives from this game," GHS Coach Troy Greenlee said.
Brewer attributed the Eagles' win to their ability to hold their composure in the tight situations.
"I was so proud of how well the team kept their composure and it's a credit to the seniors on this team and their drive to compete," he said.
Hicks was the star for the Eagles team putting up 26 points while Christy followed with 17. Chestnut and Anthony Tomsino had nine points each. Marcus McKinney pitched in eight points while while Ben Anderson had two. Rhine scored on point.
Gard was the high scorer for the Tiger Cubs Friday, but it was Burks who headed up the offense Saturday with 22 points. Troyer followed with 11 points while Gard and Richardson had 10 points each. Remsburg chipped in six points while Erick Burgeson had four points and Quinn Fenlon had three points. Zach Smiley chipped in two.
Greencastle will be back in action on Friday when it travels to Cloverdale for a 7:30 p.m. game. while the Eagles will be back in action on Friday as well when they travel to Cascade for a 7:30 p.m. start.
Greencastle 4 11 17 16 8 6 6 -- 68
South Putnam 4 11 15 18 8 6 10 -- 72
GC -- Burgeson 2 0-0 ,; Fenlon 1 1-2 3, Remsburg 2 0-0 6, Richardson 1 8-8 10, Gard 1 8-8 10, Troyer 5 1-2 11, Smiley 1 0-0 2, Burks 9 4-5 22. FG -- 22. FT -- 22-25 TP -- 68.
SP -- Rhine 0 1-2 1, Christy 8 1-2 17, McKinney 3 2-2 8, Anderson 1 0-0 2, Chestnut 3 1-2 9, Tomasino 4 1-2 9, Hicks 12 2-3, 26. FG -- 31 FT -- 8-13. TP -- 72.
3pt -- GC 2 (Remsburg 2); SP 4 (Chestnut 2). Rebounds -- GC 25 (Burks 11); SP 30 (Hicks 14). Assists -- GC 7 (Gard 2), SP 7 (Christy). Blocks -- GC 1 (Burks 1), SP 0. Total Fouls -- GC 16, SP 22. Fouled Out --Remsburg (GC)
Next Game -- The Tiger Cubs play Clvoerdale Friday on the road at 7:30 p.m. while the Eagles play Cascade as well on the road at 7:30 p.m.