In the end, though, it was Greencastle capturing the title with a 63-39 win over North Putnam in what was a very physical and hard fought contest.
"We haven't had a championship here in several years and this is something I had several remarks from players that 'Hey, we've never won one of these. We want to win tonight'. I really thought we came out and played probably the best 32 minutes we've played all year. It's as consistent as we've been. So, I was really pleased," GHS head coach Troy Greenlee said.
The Tiger Cubs busted out of the gates early and took a quick 15-6 lead after a quarter of play. But a resilient North Putnam squad outscored Greencastle 16-12 in the second quarter to cut the lead to 27-22 at the half.
Greencastle got a lift from senior Keith Carr in the first half. Carr went 3-for-3 from three-point territory and led GHS in scoring at the half with nine points. It's that process of players stepping up that Greenlee knows will have to happen.
"I thought we had a lot of contributions from a lot of different guys. Obviously teams are going to key on Nick (Hutcheson) and one of the keys to us being successful is having other guys stepping up. Keith hit, I think, three threes there in a pretty short period of time. That just opens the things up. You've got to have a threat from the perimeter," Greenlee said.
Neither squad shot the ball well in the first half and big contributors Friday night were held in check Saturday. Greencastle's Nick Hutcheson and North Putnam's James Hedrick, who combined for 43 points the night before, were held to just four each in the first half.
The second half saw an upbeat, aggressive Greencastle squad take the court and score eight unanswered points to open the quarter. And as the lead began to grow, frustrations began to mount.
Both teams banged bodies, grabbed jerseys and jockeyed for position and it seemed at any moment the frustration was about to boil over. Luckily that never happened, but the shift definitely caused the Cougars to get out of their gameplan.
"Overall, I think we're disappointed in how we were as a team. A lot of individual plays that went on and that wasn't in the game plan," Cougar head coach Nathan Martindale said. "We have to do everything as a team. We came out and we played pretty poorly in the first half. We were still in the ballgame by five and as they started to kind of come in in the second half and crank it up a little bit, we just wilted. We turned the ball over 15 times in the second half and you can't do that and they let their emotions get the best of them."
As the game continued to get more physical and the Cougars became more frustrated, Greencastle padded its lead and eventually won the contest 63-39.
Martindale said the team looked at Friday's game as a stepping-stone since they reached the finals. He also expressed some frustration with the fact his team only had a week of practice under its belt entering the county tournament.
"We talked about making a stepping stone here. We made it to the County championship and now we have to build off of it," he said. "These guys hate losing and they were disappointed tonight and they understand it's going to take some time to work. Week one is going to be different than week 20 and that's what we're ultimately going for, that time in March when we can make some noise. It's just going to be a process week by week and we'll get better week by week. It's just going to take some time for us to get caught back up with the others schools that have had some much time to actually work."
Greencastle's Tyler Lewis went off in the second half, scoring 14 points, and led the team with a game-high 17 points. Greencastle's bench chipped in 17 points on the night, with Hayden Stuckwisch pouring in 12 points. Following the contest Greenlee said he expects a big contribution from his bench.
"I feel great," he said about bench production. "Again, I really kind of see all those guys playing as starters as far as we don't expect that have any kind of letdown when those guys come on the floor. As a matter of fact, we expect them to increase the intensity and increase the output that we have. I thought the last two nights we've had that."
Despite winning the 2010 county championship and sitting at 3-1 on the season, Greenlee has no intention of resting on his laurels.
"It was just a really good win for our team. Obviously we have a lot of things to work out and get better at, but that's every team in the state right now. I'm really pleased to get it," Greenlee said.
Greencastle will host Cloverdale at 7:30 p.m, while the Cougars will host Rockville. Both games are Friday.
Putnam County Classic Championship
Greencastle 15 12 21 15 -- 63
North Putnam 6 16 10 7 -- 39
Greencastle -- Lewis 17, Hutcheson 12, Stuckwisch 12, Carr 9, Tesmer 6, Moore 2, Hennette 2, Haussin 2, Lenihan 1. Totals: 24-54 FG, 10-15 FT, 63 TP.
North Putnam -- Hedrick 10, Everts 8, Wiltermood 6, Stewart 5, Muse 5, Porter 5. Totals: 13-36 FG, 10-17 FT, 39 TP.