South Putnam seized the lead in their first game of the South Putnam JV Boys Tourney against North Vermillion and used that to catapult them to the tourney championship.
"We've got a young team, it's good thing for us to taste success," coach Levi Carmichael said after the game.
Souts grabbed the lead with just over a minute to go in the fourth quarter when Drew Cash stole the ball and took it the distance and scored, putting the Eagles in front 33-31. Good defense and a charge from the Falcons' Clint Burney helped seal the deal for South Putnam. They won the first game 35-31 with Nathan Welty closing it out on a pair of free throws.
In the championship game South squared off against the Eels of Clay City. South quickly jumped out to a five point lead as Cameron Chestnut hit a two and Dayne Nelson buried a three.
South had taken control of the game halfway through the third quarter as they built their lead to nine points at 20-11. Then the Eels came clawing back.
Clay City scored seven unanswered points to close the quarter and chip South's lead to only two entering the fourth quarter. The Eels' Orry Heffner knocked down a short jumper and Braxton Griffith drained a three to end the scoring in the third.
As the fourth quarter opened, the Eagles begin to build the lead again. Welty and Adam Masters started the scoring and Eric Drawbaugh kept it going.
The Eels kept the game close by upping the pressure on defense and hitting some key shots.
With just over a minute left, Griffith hit a two and then was fouled attempting a three-pointer to bring the Eels to within three points, 29-26.
South dug down and hit some key free throw down the stretch to give the Eagles the victory, 32-29 as well as the tourney championship.
It wasn't smooth sailing to say the least. In the first quarter, the Eagles jumped out to a 9-3 lead only to watch Clay City slowly chip away and knock the lead to only two after one.
The second quarter saw the Eels tie it up when Levi Seymour hit a free throw to make it 9-all.
South quickly regained the lead when Spencer Smith hit a jumper and continued to score. Welty and Cash rounded out the scoring for the Eagles in the second quarter with six points.
Defense was a huge key for the Eagles victory. They played strong defense all day but the second quarter was crucial. They held the Eels to only two points in the quarter and helped build the seven point lead they took into the half.
As the second half started, South started exactly where they left off. Welty scored the opening points of the quarter and South kept Clay City in check to gain the victory.
"I thought the key was out bench play. They really got some stuff done for us today," Carmichael said.
South Putnam will next travel to face Rockville Friday Jan. 5 at 6 p.m.
At South Putnam
Clay City (29) - Griffith 11, Cook 3, Seymour 6, Higgins 0, Heffner 7, Moore 2, Jenkins 0. Totals FG 10 FT 4-5 TP 29
South Putnam (32) - Cash 4, Nelson 6, Chestnut 3, Welty 11, Masters 2, Smith 2, Drawbaugh 4, Dean 0. Totals FG 11 FT 9-16 TP 32
3pt.-shooting - Clay City - 2 (Griffith 2), South Putnam 1 (Nelson)
Next Game - South Putnam will travel to Rockville Friday Jan. 5 at 6 p.m.