Greencastle used increased defensive pressure and some offensive rebounding to make a 13-0 second quarter run to take control of Friday's opening contest of the Putnam County Classic with South Putnam.
The two teams traded the lead several times in the first period, with South leading 11-10 after one. However, the Tiger Cubs had a run in store, beginning by forcing several Eagle turnovers.
"I think, offensively, we got away from what we were trying to do," Eagle coach Brian Gardner said. "They hit some shots and made a little run, and it seemed like once they made that, we forced a little more."
In the second, a big key was the Cubs had more opportunities. A big part of this came in rebounding.
"I thought we did a pretty decent job of rebounding," GHS coach Troy Greenlee said. "That's one thing we've really been trying to stress here on both ends of the floor. I think that's one thing we have to do to be a successful team."
"When you give a team like Greencastle second opportunities and third opportunities and you don't get shots, they're going to make you pay for it. They did in the second quarter," Gardner said.
But even with the opportunities, a team has to hit its shots. The Cubs did just that. Brennan Burks led Greencastle with 20 points and shot 4-for-4 in the opening half. Second-leading scorer Drew Evens had 18.
Greenlee was happy considering his team was opening the season Friday night.
"Coming into the tournament we typically have a game before it, but this was our first actual game," he said. "We really didn't know what to expect as far as some things we've been working on in practice, but I just thought the difference was that we were unselfish on the offensive end."
The unselfishness showed as seven Tiger Cubs scored in the game.
GHS carried its momentum to a 27-18 halftime advantage.
In the second half, they basically kept the Eagles at arm's length before pulling away further in the late stages, ending up with a 19-point advantage.
"They made that run and we could never get back over that hump," Gardner said. "They made the run then we just kind of stayed even."
For Gardner, the task remains the same after the loss. He has a young team that is still learning. While the loss may be disappointing, he keeps it in perspective and looks toward improving later in the year.
"If you're peaking right now, it's not where you want to be. We're obviously not peaking right now," he said. "We're still young. We're still sophomores and juniors and so for us, we have to learn from every night. There's things we can take from tonight and get better.
"I think those guys in the locker room are looking at themselves saying, 'We can get better. We can do better things,'" he continued.
While Gardner did not know his team would be facing North Putnam in the consolation game at the time of this interview, it did not seem to matter. The Eagles are looking to take care of their own business.
"Tomorrow we're looking at taking care of the basketball better and trying to run what we want to run and do the things we want to do," Gardner said. "It will be the third game of the year, so we're still trying to climb that ladder and get to the top. Until we do that, we're going to have to keep learning every game we go out.
"The one thing I can say about these guys is they play hard. When they're playing hard they'll learn and get better and we'll make that climb to the top," he concluded.
Greenlee, likewise, was less worried about the opponent than he was about the Tiger Cubs.
"We're going to have to play well against either team," Greenlee said. "We'll find out here, but right now we're trying to focus in on what we can do to get better and that's how we're approaching it."
With this being the first game for an inexperienced team, Greenlee was pleased. He hoped the success could dispatch with some of the players' jitters.
"We got a lot of guys in tonight that it was their first varsity experience," the coach said. "Hopefully they're now over the hump of the nerves and everything.
"It was a very typical first game where you made some mistakes, but finally got your feet under you a little bit," he continued. "I thought sometimes in the second half we played pretty well."
He added he would like to see his team improved on its defense inside, noting that South got the ball inside too easily at times. All in all, though, his team played well and played together.
"I thought the guys were unselfish," he said.
South Putnam faces North Putnam in the consolation game at 6:30 p.m. tonight. Greencastle will face Cloverdale in the championship at 8 p.m.
Putnam County Classic Game 1
Greencastle 10 18 12 17 -- 56
South Putnam 11 7 10 9 -- 37
Greencastle -- Burks 6-8 6-6 20, Evens 7-10 4-4 18, Miller 4-8 0-2 9, Marshall 2-5 0-2 4, Bartrum 1-3 0-0 2, Faust 1-2 0-0 2, Nobles 0-0 1-2 1, Tarabar 0-1 0-0 0, Huber 0-2 0-1 0. Team totals: 21-39 FG, 11-17 FT, 56 Total points.
South Putnam -- Frame 4-10 0-0 9, Chestnut 3-6 0-0 7, Boswell 3-7 0-2 6, Masters 2-2 0-2 5, Cash 2-5 0-0 5, Nelson 1-2 0-1 2, Welty 0-2 2-2 2, Sebanc 0-1 0-0 0. Team totals: 15-35 FG, 2-5 FT, 37 Total points.
Next game -- South Putnam faces North Putnam in the Putnam County Classic consolation game at 6:30 p.m. today. Greencastle faces Cloverdale at 8 p.m. in the championship game.