EMINENCE -- The South Putnam High School boys' basketball team found itself in situation that it knows all too well Saturday.
The Eagles (6-4, 0-2 n the west Cnetral Conference) won a close game over the Eminence Eels Saturday, 70-64, ending a long weekend for the Eagles, but that almost wasn't the case.
Like many other games this season where they have been up on their opponents, the Eagles found themselves fighting to win the game.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Eagles led 50-41, after controlling the first three-quarters of the game, but the Eels weren't going to lay down for them. For the first in the game, Eminence controlled the momentum of the game and went on a 13-5 run in the first three minutes of the quarter to cut the Eagles lead to two points.
"We had a break down mentally in that stretch. That is something that we have to work on going into next week," SPHS Coach Kyle Brewer said. "Eminence got on a roll there and hit some big shots."
Along with the Eels getting hot on the court, South Putnam found itself in another predicament: foul trouble. When the Eels got hot, the Eagles started fouling and before they knew it, four players had four fouls and were on their way to fouling out.
The Eels, who couldn't hit a basket all night, found themselves making every shot they threw up and Eagles found themselves looking for a break - one they would get.
The game came down to the last few possessions, and who ever could score on them.
The Eagles got the break that they were looking for, when the Eels got themselves into foul trouble. With the Eels in foul trouble, the Eagles went back to the original game plan that got them upon the board in the beginning, getting Matt Hicks the ball. Hicks continued to dominate the post area and score for the Eagles, as he ended the night with a season-high of 38 points.
With about two minutes left on the clock, both teams were deadlocked at 62. South Putnam was able to jump to a five point lead, 67-62, with 1:30 left, but the Eels gave them one last scare. Eminence hit one more jumper to pull within three, 67- 64, and called timeout. After the timeout, Eminence try to tie the game but fouled the Eagles instead, sending them to the charity stripe with seconds left on the clock. Greg Chestnut put the finishing touches on the game hitting his two free throws, and the Eagles held on or their sixth win of the season.
"Those possessions at the free throw line became crucial, especially when it's a two or three possession game," Brewer said. "The team came out very composed after the timeout."
The Eagles have already been in three overtime games, including one triple-overtime during the Putnam County Tournament, and few other close games this season and Brewer attributes the Eagles' ability to win these close games from their past experiences.
"Some of those situations earlier in the season have helped this team," Brewer said.
Along with Hicks' 38 points, Chestnut had 19 points and Drew Christy who had six points. Ben Anderson tallied in five points while Zach Rhine scored two points.
In junior varsity action, the Eagles defeated the Eels 56-36 with Derek Cash leading the way with 13 points. Adam Hammond followed with 11 points while Conor Frame and Tyler Shoffner had six points each. Brad Eickoff had seven points and Tyle Newby had eight points. Michael Sebanc chipped in two points and Derek Tomaw had one point.
The Eagles will be back in action on Tuesday when they travel to Clay City to take on the Eels with the JV tipping off at 6 p.m. and the varsity following at 7:30 p.m.
Eminence 8 14 19 23 -- 64
S. Putnam 15 19 16 20 -- 70
EM -- Moss 1 3-4 5, Whaley 3 3-4 11, Lockwood 2 5-7 10, Adkisson 7 5-9 20, Stinson 4 4-8 12, Grenier 2 2-4 6. Totals -- FG 19-37, FT 22-36, TP 64.
SP -- Rhine 1 0-1 2, Christy 2 1-2 6, Anderson 2 1-7 5, Chestnut 5 5-8 19, Hicks 13 9-13 38, McKinney 0 0-0 0, Tomasino 0 0-0 0, Frame 0 0-0 0. Totals -- FG 23-51, FT 16-31, TP 70.
3pt -- SP 7 (Chestnut 3), EM 3 (Whaley 2). Assists -- SP 5 (Christy 5), EM 3 (three players with one each). Rebounds -- SP 17 (Hicks 7), EM 28 (Adkisson 8 ). Steals -- SP7 (Anderson 3), EM 3 (three players with one each). Blocks -- SP 1 (Chestnut 1), EM 2 (two players with one each). Total Fouls -- SP 21, EM 25. Fouled Out -- Whaley (EM).
JV -- The Eagles defeated the Eels 56-36.
Next Game -- South Putnam(6-4, 0-2) travels to Clay City on Tuesday to take on the Eels with the JV starting at 6 p.m. and the varsity following at 7:30 p.m.