GREENCASTLE -- When two county rivals clash on the basketball court, regardless of the talent or size disparity between them, one can bet that the game is going to be hard-fought and rarely easily won. For a little more than a half of Friday night's game matching Greencastle and South Putnam, it looked like this script would play out once again.
The underdog Eagles cut a 33-27 halftime deficit to three early in the third quarter, but Greencastle's perimeter players, especially sophomore Hayden Stuckwisch, repeatedly found open looks beyond the arc and knocked down several long-range jumpers to open up a 53-38 lead by the end of the quarter.
The Tiger Cubs built a 21-point advantage late in the fourth quarter en route to a 68-51 victory.
"They were zoning us, double teaming down low, and we just didn't have enough shooters," GHS coach Troy Greenlee said. "Without that threat from the perimeter, you can't punish that double team, so we adjusted to get some more open looks on the outside."
Greenlee's South Putnam counterpart, coach Micah Elliott, pointed to that exact adjustment as being the key to Greencastle's second-half surge.
"I thought we executed our game-plan -- take away the middle -- but they adjusted by putting a shooter up top, and it hurt us," Elliott said.
The result was that, though South Putnam contained Hutcheson for much of the night, the Tiger Cubs hit eight three-pointers. Hutcheson still managed to net a team-high 22 after a nine point fourth quarter effort. Stuckwisch, who Greenlee said has been improving with his decision-making and shot selection over the past few weeks, had 13 and Tyler Lewis added 11.
For South Putnam, Dean Varvel led the way with 13 and Seth Hammond contributed 12. The Eagles had to work for their points for most of the game, utilizing a patient offensive attack and some nifty cutting to get some open looks.
"South really did a nice job of making us defend and, to be honest, I didn't think we were very good in that aspect of the game," Greenlee said. "We weren't very alert at times, and we allowed them to penetrate and get behind us a bit too much."
Ultimately, though, Greencastle simply had too much size and too much skill. Elliot said his team knew the challenge would be a tough one and that he was "proud of every single one" of his players for their effort.
"We played well for the most part, but we just had too many lapses defensively and too many mistakes to beat a team like this," Elliott said. "These guys aren't satisfied with losing, and to lose these last two games to two good teams, it gives them a hunger to work harder and get better."
Greencastle -- Hutcheson 22, Stuckwisch 13, Lewis 11, Haussin 7, Moore 5, Hennette 4, Lenihan 4, Muncie 2
South Putnam -- Varvel 13, Hammond 12, Gibson 6, Bumgardner 5, Stanton 5, Freeman 3