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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Forty Years in the Making: South Putnam celebrates school's first hoops squad

Monday, January 11, 2010

South Putnam's Nathan Welty soars through the lane during Saturday's game against Eminence in the old Filllmore Gym. The Eagles lost the game 50-36. [Order this photo]
FILLMORE -- It's been 40 years since a select group of basketball players donned the first jerseys that bore the name South Putnam High School. With their new gym still under construction, they choose Fillmore High School as their home court and on Saturday those individuals were honored.

South Putnam took on Eminence in what was billed as the Nostalgia Game, ultimately falling 50-36, but creating a scene that those in attendance will remember for a lifetime.

Beyond the honoring of legends, there was a game to be played, and in the first half, it looked as if the Eagles were well on their way to their third straight victory.

Playing within their offense, South Putnam pushed out to a 12-5 lead after one quarter, but let the Eels back into the game, leading 22-21 going into the half.

Nathan Welty led the way with nine points, followed by Cameron Chestnut with six and Derek Dean with four.

For all the good the first half revealed, the second half exposed some of South Putnam's shortcomings.

"We did some things well in the first half," South Putnam head coach Micah Elliott said. "We just didn't do the things that got us the lead in the first quarter. They made some adjustments, but our kids didn't respond to our adjustments. Give their coaching staff credit.

"We became frustrated and I think we lost our mental toughness and we let things dictate how we performed that we couldn't handle," he continued. "You can't handle certain situations and you can't react to them. Whatever happened out there was out of our hands. You have to deal with it and move on and make sure it doesn't affect the next play -- and it affected our next play."

What Elliott was referring to was the fact his team scored only three points in the third quarter and was cited for two second half technical fouls.

The Eagles put together a more productive fourth quarter, but having been outscored 15-3 in the third quarter, the damage had already been done. Eminence outscored South Putnam 29-14 in the second half en route to their 50-36 victory.

The Eagles were coming off a two-game winning streak, but Elliott noted that those games are behind them and they have to understand what got them the lead Saturday is what they need to continue to do.

"The two wins were great and they're over," he said. "Today we started off... coach (Pat) Rady always talks about it's a game of runs. We started a run off 12-5 at the end of the first quarter and then they came out and hit some shots. When it's 12-5, our kids have to know how it got to 12-5. It didn't get there on quick offensive shots; it got there by being patient and moving the basketball and playing solid defense."

The junior varsity team fell to Eminence 41-22.

Members of the 1969-70 South Putnam Basketball team were honored between games and were greeted by thunderous applause from both stands. Most stuck around for the varsity contest and looking into the stands it wasn't hard to miss the glint of yesteryear dancing in their eyes as they watched the game.

Asked if games in the old Fillmore Gym could become a regular occurrence, Elliott acknowledged the hard work that went into making the game a reality

"I don't know. I think to do it, you have to have a certain reason -- a special occasion," Elliott said smiling. "It's a neat old place, I wouldn't mind playing some junior high games in here, but it's a big ordeal to undertake.

"Mr. Griswold, Mr. Puckett, Mr. Bain -- they've been working their tails off," he continued. "The old scoreboard, when we pulled it out and blew the dust off, it worked part of the time and didn't work part of the time."

He gave a special thanks to Dave Plunkett for his work in getting the scoreboard back in working order.

When asked again about a possible return to the Fillmore hardcourt, Elliott left the door wide open.

"I wouldn't ever rule it out, but it would have to be for a special occasion," he grinned.

Members of the 1969-70 team who were honored were Steve Cash, Lee Chew, Bart Colwell, Jerry Custis, Rick Humphries, Rick Pickett, Dan Puckett, Mike Rissler, Will Rowan, Bill Simmons, Willie Taylor, Mark Tharp, Ron Wallace, David Zenor and their Hall-of-Fame head coach Tom Goldsberry.

At Fillmore

Eminence 5 16 15 14 -- 50

South Putnam 12 10 3 11 -- 36

Individual Stats

Eminence -- Shupe 22, Marcum 8, Wagner 6, Ford 6, Watkins 6, No. 23 2. Totals: 13-44 FG, 19-30 FT, 50 TP.

South Putnam -- Chestnut 13, Welty 12, Varvel 5, Dean 4, Freeman 2. Totals: 13-36 FG, 8-12 FT, 36 TP.

Junior Varsity

Eminence 41

South Putnam 22

Next game -- South Putnam will host Greencastle in the second game of a double-header Friday at 7:30 p.m.