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BRAZIL -- Philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote, 'that which does not kill us, makes us stronger.'
That expression could easily be applied to the closing series of games that the South Putnam Eagles face over the final couple of weeks.
The Class 2A Eagles, already fending off a bout of flu/colds on their roster, took on 4A Northview on Thursday night and close out the regular season versus 3A powers Owen Valley and Edgewood. The three squads boast a combined 40-11 record this year and the Mustangs are the top-ranked team in 3A this year and unbeaten.
The Eagles fought valiantly against a taller, more athletic Northview squad on the road Thursday, but were overmatched in an 81-34 defeat that dropped them to 3-15 this year.
"That's the most athletic team we'll see all year," coach Brian Gardner said of the Knights. "We've been battling sickness. . . I don't think we've had all our kids at practice once this week and when your already a step slow against a team, that makes you three or four steps slower"
The Knights used their overall height and advantage in length to disrupt nearly everything the Eagles wanted to do in the first half, forcing seven first quarter turnovers and holding South Putnam to just three field goals before halftime.
Those turnovers fed the Northview transition offense that they pushed to an 18-3 lead after one quarter.
Northview got hot from the perimeter as well, hitting four 3-pointers before halftime and the front court duo of Josiah Brock (6-foot-5) and Brodee Miller (6-5), rang up 15 points and 12 rebounds over the first two
On the defensive end, the Eagles were forced to work from the perimeter for much of the game and hit only 3-of-16 from the field before halftime as
Northview forged a 38-10 lead.
"We brought three freshmen up (to the varsity) and they played well," said Gardner. "The biggest thing they are getting is valuable varsity minutes and they are getting to see what varsity basketball means in the state of Indiana."
After the break, senior Adam Nees came out firing for the Eagles, scoring his team's first 12 points on the way to a game-high 18 points. Unfortunately for South Putnam, the Knights remained hot from the field
and got six points from Jared Timm and a pair of 3-pointers from Matt Stuckey to continue building their lead.
"Adam really stepped up. He stepped up as a senior and really helped us," said Gardner.
Northview built their lead to more than 40 early in the fourth period before subbing liberally the remainder of the way.
Adam Masters made a big impression in his start as a freshmen, scoring seven points and battling in the post for a team-high eight rebounds. Classmate Nathan Welty added four points and was very active in his start with four rebounds.
Despite the lopsided defeat, Gardner feels that these final games will prepare his team for the 2A Sectional.
"The way we look at this is, that Northview is better than any other team in our sectional," the first-year head coach commented. "We'll try and forget tonight, but these games will prepare us for the postseason."
The Eagles are off until February 16 when they travel to face the Patriots at 6:30 p.m.