Big games are defined by big moments and Saturday was no exception. Leads faded, players made plays and the fans were treated to a knock down, drag out battle with the championship on the line. What a way to spend a Saturday night.
"The kids played hard," South Putnam head coach Micah Elliott said. "Give all the credit to the kids. They came out here and have been waiting for this for a long time. We got a little reckless there at the end, but we still kept our composure. I'm just happy for the kids."
Greencastle entered the half up five and looked to be in control of the game, but things turned at the start of the third quarter. The Tiger Cubs came out visibly flat and South Putnam took advantage.
The Tiger Cubs were whistled for a technical foul at the 4:46 mark, which sparked the Eagles to go on a 9-to-1 and take control of the game. Conor Frame scored eight points in the quarter as South outscored Greencastle 19-7 and put the Tiger Cubs in a hole they couldn't overcome.
"The third quarter killed us," GHS head coach Troy Greenlee commented. "We had a little bit of a lead at halftime and for some reason came out flat in the third quarter. We didn't defend like we had to, got down again and I told the guys after the game that we didn't begin to play with a sense of urgency until after we got down and you can't wait for that to happen.
"You can't wait for that to happen because what happened tonight is what's going to happen in situations like that," he added.
Sensing the game slipping away from them, Greencastle steadied themselves and went on a tear in the fourth, assuring that no fan would be heading for the doors anytime soon.
Ashton Marshall scored nine points in the final quarter, with Kyle Nobles adding six, but South Putnam knocked down shots at the line to keep them in front.
Greencastle chiseled at the lead and after a Nobles basket, they found themselves down just four. Two missed free throws by the Eagles' Cameron Chestnut gave the Tiger Cubs a little life, but time was not on their side.
Jordan Hickam connected on a three with one second remaining, but the horn sounded to which the South Putnam crowd exploded with fans spilling onto the floor and some members of the team going into the stands to partake in the celebration. The Eagles had won the Classic by one point, 61-60.
"I'm happy for the student section -- they have things to cheer about now. They came out with great support and we really appreciate them," Elliott acknowledged.
When asked after the game about his team's second half performance, Greenlee indicated that the key to the game was the third quarter.
"For some reason we just didn't come out and have that defensive intensity that we had to have," he said. "We're not a team that's not going to light people up offensively, so we weren't able to defend like we should have in the third and that ended up being the difference in the game."
He commented on how a team can't have lapses such as that if they want to succeed. He noted it was a team effort in games, but he's looking to seven individuals to help right the ship and get GHS to where they need to be.
"I'll tell you what, we have seven seniors on our team and I just told them when we met in there, that they need to take ownership of what we're doing," Greenlee said. "As a coach, I can only do so much, they have to be the ones that get where we win games like this. As coaches we do what we can, but they are the ones on the floor doing it and they have to, again, take ownership of the team and be able to get us playing at a higher level on both ends of the floor.
"We're going to see what kind of leadership comes out of this," he concluded.
A beaming Elliott stood at midcourt relishing in his team's victory. He's also enjoying what he's seeing out of his squad in just their fourth contest together.
"We're getting carry over from practice," he said. "We caught the ball, we ripped through and we were strong when we needed to be strong. There were going to be fouls and we have to expect that down toward the end of the game -- we have to expect that. I'm just really excited."
In the consolation game, Cloverdale blended good shooting with a wonderful defensive performance from Link Lovins to come away with a 66-57 win over North Putnam.
South Putnam will host Cascade, while Greencastle will host Cloverdale this Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Cougars will host Rockville Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Putnam County Classic
South Putnam 16 9 19 17 -- 61
Greencastle 18 12 7 23 -- 60
South Putnam -- Frame 14, Boswell 13, Welty 12, Chestnut 10, Masters 8, Dean 4. Totals: FG 20-40 FT 18-34 TP 61.
Greencastle -- Marshall 22, Nobles 14, Huber 12, Hickam 6, Hutcheson 4, Harlan 25. Totals: FG 17-38 FT 18-25 TP 60.
3pt FG -- GHS 6 (Huber 4, Hickam, Shuee), SP 4 (Welty 2, Chestnut, Frame
Putnam County Classic
Cloverdale 23 14 14 15 -- 66
North Putnam 13 6 21 17 -- 47
Next game -- South Putnam will host Cascade, while Greencastle will host Cloverdale this Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Cougars will host Rockville Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Photo gallery: www.bannergraphic.com/gallery/3303/