SPEEDWAY -- South Putnam High School's varsity boys' basketball team put up a fight, but it wasn't enough to beat Speedway on the road Friday.
The Eagles fell to 1-5 overall on the season and 0-2 in West Central Conference action with a 52-40 loss to the Sparkplugs.
SPHS held the advantage throughout the first half, going into the halftime break with a 20-17 lead.
But the Sparkplugs fought back in the third quarter, scoring the first five points of the period to take a three-point lead, 23-20.
The Eagles fought back to within one on a two-point basket from Derek Cash that made the score 23-22, but that was as close as they would get as Speedway controlled the duration of the game.
The Sparkplugs led 31-26 heading into the fourth quarter and built a double digit lead after opening the fourth quarter on a 9-2 run. All nine points in the Speedway run were scored on three-pointers from Adam Walton, who scored a game-high 20 points for Speedway.
Speedway led by as many as 17 in the third, but the Eagles weren't finished yet.
South Putnam scored nine points in the final two minutes, 18 seconds and closed to within 11, but the Sparkplugs managed to hang on for the victory.
SPHS coach Brian Gardner was proud of the effort his team put forth against the Sparkplugs Friday.
"I think the kids played extremely hard, and you can't ask for more than that as a coach," Gardner said. "We put ourselves in a position to win the game."
South Putnam was led by senior Ben Anderson, who scored 13 points in the contest, shooting 4-of-6 from the field and 5-of-8 at the free throw line.
Anderson was the only Eagle to score in double figures, but Cash came close, shooting 4-of-9 from the floor to finish with eight points. Ben Parker added six, Noah Boswell five and Conor Frame four in the loss.
In the end, the three-point shot made much of the difference for the Sparkplugs.
Speedway shot 7-of-14 from behind the arc, with Walton knocking down four. Taylor Dial, who finished with 19 points, had three three-pointers for the Sparkplugs.
South Putnam, on the other hand, attempted just one triple on the night.
The Eagles also gave up the advantage on the boards, as the Sparkplugs outrebounded SPHS 24-21.
Cash led South Putnam with six rebounds.
South Putnam's defense did force its share of turnovers, however, as the Sparkplugs gave up the ball 16 times in Friday's contest compared to 14 for the Eagles.
However, what pleased Gardner the most was something that won't be found in any stat sheet.
"The thing about these guys is that they don't give up," Gardner said. "They're fighters. They're going to work hard every night, and it doesn't matter how much they're down by or how much time is on the clock. They're going to bust their butts.
"All you can ask of these kids is that they go hard, and I'm proud of how much they want to get better."
South Putnam will be in action again Friday, Dec. 29 at home when they open the South Putnam Tournament against North Vermillion.
South Putnam (40) -- Anderson 4-6 5-8 13, Nees 0-7 3-4 3, Cash 4-9 0-0 8, Boswell 1-4 3-4 5, Parker 2-5 2-4 6, Frame 1-3 2-2 4, Hammond 1-3 0-0 2, Tomaw 0-0 0-0 0, Sebanc 0-1 0-0 0. 13-38 FG 15-22 FT 40 TP.
Speedway (52) -- Linville 1-3 1-1 3, Dial 6-12 4-5 19, Dunbar 1-3 6-9 8, Walton 7-10 2-2 20, Pedigo 0-1 0-4 0, Prior 1-2 0-0 2, Duman 0-0 0-0 0. 16-31 FG 13-21 FT 52 TP.
South Putnam 12 8 6 14 -- 40
Speedway 10 7 14 21 -- 52
3-pt FG -- South Putnam 0-1 (Hammond 0-1), Speedway 7-14 (Dial 3-7, Dunbar 0-1, Walton 4-6). Rebounds -- South Putnam 21 (Cash 6), Speedway 24 (Pedigo 8). Total Fouls -- South Putnam 17, Speedway 16. Fouled out -- None. Turnovers -- South Putnam 14, Speedway 16.
Next Game -- The Eagles (1-5) will host North Vermillion in the South Putnam Tournament beginning Dec. 29.