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South Putnam holds off late charge from Rockville to take season-opener 45-41

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The South Putnam girls' basketball team held off a late charge from Rockville Tuesday night, to win its opener 45-41 at home.

Three-pointers on three straight possessions gave the Rox a 9-2 run and cut the Eagle lead that had been 10 to 43-39 with under a minute remaining.

"We just have to get better at the end of the game of knowing time and situation," said Eagle coach Debbie Steffy. "We talked about them being in a panic situation and having to put up threes, but we still left people open. We just have to do a better job of that, and I think that will come as the season goes."

Rockville then cut the lead to two on a basket by Chelsie Stout

At that point, though, senior leadership took over. The Eagles got the ball into the hands of Meghan Canary, who was fouled and made both free throws. The senior was 7-for-8 on free throws, all in the second half.

"Canary was 4-of-4 in the fourth quarter from the foul line, and those were big free throws for us, especially right there at the end. She hit two big ones."

With less than five seconds remaining, the Rox could do nothing with the ball, and the Eagles (1-0, 0-0 WCC) escaped with a season opening win.

Canary, who had struggled offensively in the first half, found her shot in the second half and came up big at the free throw line to lead the Eagles with 17 points.

Fellow senior Bailey Birt had 14 points, and paced the Eagles with 12 in the opening half.

Although the Rox got themselves back in the game with three-pointers, it was outside shooting that plagued them all night, as they were just 5-of-22 from beyond the arc. The Eagles, by contrast, were 1-3, with the two misses coming on desperation heaves at the end of quarters.

Additionally, the Eagles exerted their superiority in the paint by outrebounding Rockville 28-14. Leeah Butts led the way with seven boards.

The beginning of the game was a bit rough for the Eagles, who were unable to penetrate the Rox defense early. The first quarter closed with Rockville leading 7-4.

In the second quarter the Eagles came storming back, outscoring Rockville 15-3, to take a 19-10 halftime advantage.

"I thought the kids really hustled a lot in the second quarter, which really set the tone for the rest of the game," Steffy said. "We talked about it after the game and at half time that it was just pure hustle that allowed us to be able to score 15 points in the second quarter.

"We were after loose balls. We were going after rebounds and putting them back in to score," she continued. "I thought that set the tone for the rest of the game for us because in the second half, we continued to do that.

The Eagles came out with their foot on the gas after halftime, hitting two quick baskets and forcing a Rockville timeout.

"I thought the beginning of the second half we did a nice job of coming out and putting some points on the board," Steffy said. "We made them call a timeout within the first minute-and-a-half of the second half. That's always our goal to come out and put some pressure on the other team right away at halftime. I thought the kids did a really nice job of that."

For the remainder of the third and most of the fourth, the Eagles kept the Rox at arm's length. The lead fluctuated between six and 10, but it looked like South would take care of business down the stretch.

The Rox had other plans, though, mounting the late charge and making the fourth quarter easily the highest-scoring period of the game.

"We got tired because I'm only playing six, seven, eight people, so the hustle maybe didn't look like it was full-force hustle, but we're still after balls, we're on the floor," Steffy said. "I think that's a tribute to those girls because they're a never die type of group."

The Eagles host Edgewood at 6 p.m. Friday.

At South Putnam

Rockville7 3 11 20 -- 41
South Putnam4 15 11 15 -- 45

Rockville -- Stout 5-15 4-6 14, Greene 4-13 1-5 9, Mahurin 3-4 0-3 6, McMullen 2-8 0-4 6, Vukovits 1-2 2-2 4, Harper 1-1 0-1 3, Flaur 0-6 0-0 0. Totals 16-49 FG, 7-20 FT, 41.

South Putnam -- Canary 5-15 7-8 17, Birt 5-10 3-4 14, Boetjer 2-5 0-2 4, Butts 2-5 0-1 4, Hughes 1-5 0-1 2, Haynes 1-1 0-0 2, Mink 0-4 2-4 2. Totals 16-45 FG, 12-20 FG, 45.

3-pt. FG -- RHS 5-22 (McMullen 2-5, Stout 2-8), SP 1-3 (Birt 1-2). Rebounds -- RHS 14 (Stout 4), SP 28 (Butts 7). Total Fouls -- RHS 19, SP 18. Fouled Out -- None.

Junior Varsity Results

Rockville 31
South Putnam23

Next game -- The Eagles (1-0, 0-0 WCC) host Edgewood Friday night with the JV game beginning at 6 p.m.

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