EMINENCE -- South Putnam's inability to make free throws in the fourth quarter chopped off a determined comeback bid Friday, dooming the Eagles to a 57-46 defeat to Eminence in a boys' basketball game on the Eels' court.
The Eagles (0-10) made 9-of-17 free throws in the final period and were 12-of-25 in the game. The Eels (5-3) made 12-of-13 from the foul line in the fourth period. They were Eminence's only free throws of the game.
South Putnam's 46 points were a season high and they put 29 on the board in the second half. The 11-point margin was the narrowest defeat this season.
The Eagles fought back from a 14-point deficit midway through the third period to get within seven on two occasions, 45-38 and 47-40 with 3:42 remaining, but they missed free throws that would have sliced Eminence's lead further.
"We're close," South Putnam coach Micah Elliott said. "I hope people can see that. I hope our kids can see that. It's a possession here and getting momentum. We missed our free throws. If we could have cut that lead to four points, you put the pressure on the team that's ahead. But they hit their free throws and we didn't."
The Eagles played well in other areas. They committed only nine turnovers to 11 for the Eels (5-3) and had one more rebound, 34-33. They held Eminence's long-range sharp-shooting Dawson Gore to 3-of-13 from the field and 1-of-5 on 3-pointers.
"We executed what we wanted to do," Elliott said. "Defensively, we're really solid."
The Eagles' biggest liability this season has been field goal percentage and it cost them in the second quarter when they made 3-of-15, including 0-2 on 3-pointers. Eminence out-scored the Eagles 14-7 and took a 28-17 lead at halftime.
South Putnam was 9-of-19 (47.3 percent) from the field in the second half led by Dean Varvel's 4-of-6.
Varvel's 12-foot bank shot on a fast break reduced Eminence's lead to 45-38. Brayden Freeman's drive down the lane for a lay-up left the Eagles trailing 47-40.
Eminence responded with four straight free throws, two by Chris Wagner and two by Grant Shupe, to expand its advantage to 11 points.
South Putnam got its deficit back down to eight, but it kept missing free throws to never apply the kind of pressure needed to make it all the way back.
"The most important thing is the kids aren't giving up, the coaches aren't giving up," Elliott said.
South Putnam's next game is at Greencastle next Friday.
South Putnam 10 7 12 17 -- 46
Eminence 14 14 12 17 -- 57
SOUTH PUTNAM (0-10)
Se. Arnold 3-6 1-5 7, Bumgardner 4-8 0-1 8, Freeman 3-10 4-7 10, Varvel 5-12 0-0 10, Hammond 0-0 0-2 0, Gibson 1-8 3-4 5, Stanton 1-4 4-6 6, Totals 17-48 12-25 46.
Garland 3-4 0-0 6, Wagner 5-10 2-2 15, Watkins 4-7 2-2 10, Shupe 3-8 4-5 11, Gore 3-13 4-4 11, Szalay 2-5 0-0 4, Peters 0-1 0-0 0, J. Goss 0-0 0-0 0, Alexander 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 20-48 12-13 57.
3-point field goals: SP 0-8, E 5-12 (Wagner 3-5, Shupe 1-1, Gore 1-5). Rebounds: SP 34 (Bumgardner 7, Freeman 5), E 33 (Watkins 8, Szalay 6). Turnovers: SP 9, E 11. Personal fouls: SP 17, E 20.