It's never good to lose, but South Putnam showed that they are capable of competing with the best teams in the area Friday night, as they narrowly missed upsetting a quality Owen Valley team, 81-74.
Playing perhaps their best half of basketball this season, the Eagles refused to let the Patriots get much of an advantage in the opening sixteen minutes, despite trailing by eight points early.
Down 14-6 at the four minute mark of the first quarter, South went on an 8-1 run to pull within one, 15-14, with just under two minutes to play. The Eagles trailed at the break 19-16.
Coach Brian Gardner pointed to the run as an indicator of how well his team played: "When they got leads we didn't panic," he said. "Before when that's happened to us the lead just seemed to grow."
Despite the obvious offensive output from the Patriots, Gardner was pleased with his squad's effort: "I thought our kids came out with a lot of confidence tonight. Even though they scored 38 points, I thought we played well defensively."
The third quarter saw Owen Valley begin to inch away slightly thanks to Stahl's 13 points. The Patriots opened with an 8-3 run, and closed the quarter with Stahl scoring 11 points on Owen Valley's last four possessions. Going into the last period, the Eagles trailed. 57-48.
The fourth quarter was a horse race, as the two teams combined for 50 points. South again outscored the Patriots 26-24, but Owen Valley's ability to hit free throws down the stretch prevented the Eagles from getting the game into a two possession situation. Stahl ended up with a game-high 30 points to pace Owen Valley, and Noah Boswell scored 19 to lead the Eagles. Conor Frame added 17.
Gardner was optimistic about the progress his ballclub is making as it nears sectional play: "I hate to lose, but we came out of this with a lot of positives. Our kids need to know that, and they do...we're gaining."
With the loss, South Putnam drops to 4-15 on the season.
At South Putnam
|Owen Valley||19 19 19 24 -- 81|
|South Putnam||16 20 12 26 -- 74|
Next game -- South Putnam (4-15, 1-5 WCC) concludes its regular season by hosting Edgewood at 7:30 p.m. next Friday.