South Putnam's gym had both going Tuesday as the Eagles utilized a stifling defense and a deft passing offense to defeat Rockville 62-54.
The win took pressure off first-year head coach Lindsay Blackman. Now instead of fans talking about when the first win will come, their focus can be on what the team can accomplish next. Blackman noted it felt good to get the win out of the way early.
South Putnam's win didn't come easy either. After enjoying a lead from the midway point of the second quarter, they saw Rockville regain the lead with 5:20 remaining in the fourth quarter. Megan Gordon cushioned the lead even more, putting the Rox out front 52-49.
Leanna Masters cut the lead to one on a close bucket and Jenny Thompson was able to put the Eagles out in front for good on their next possession.
With 3:07 on the clock, Thompson was fouled by Rockville's Jenifer Lee behind the three-point line. With her team down one point, Thompson calmly went to the line and drained all three foul shots and the Eagles never looked back.
Masters and Mattie Varvel added baskets, with Emily Dabkowski and Thompson knocking down two free throws to seal the deal for a 62-54 win.
South Putnam showed skill grabbing multiple offensive rebounds and maintaining their control throughout the game.
"I was impressed with us taking care of the ball tonight because it hasn't been so much in practice," Blackman said. "So, it was nice to see us take care of the ball. The post did a great job on the inside getting position and did a great job crashing the offensive boards. I don't know how many offensive boards we had, but if we didn't finish, we were there getting hands and fingers on balls. It was a great effort on the offensive glass."
From the opening tip, South Putnam pressured the Rox, allowing them to jump out to a 4-0. They stayed out in front until Shelby Snodgrass hit a three-pointer to make it 9-8 in Rockville's favor. Rockville held the lead for the remainder of the quarter and led 19-16 after one.
The second quarter was much of the same at the beginning, but South Putnam's tough defense allowed them to chip away at the lead, ultimately taking the lead with 4:23 on the clock when Alex McHugh knocked down a shot.
Dabkowski added to the lead when she stole the inbounds pass and scored on an easy layup and again, hitting a shot to make it 28-25 at the break.
South Putnam's pressuring defense was all part of the plan according to Blackman.
"That was our goal, to bring that intensity full court," Blackman said. "We got beat a couple times long and had to bring it off, but eventually as we get time to work on that, that's what we want to be able to do, push it defensively and get in people's face.
"We have a deep bench in that sense to rotate players in and out when they get tired. That's our goal is to do that and keep that intensity from the first quarter to the fourth," she added.
The Eagles were able to maintain fresh legs by subbing throughout the game and Blackman said it was nice to have so many players who can step in and not skip a beat.
"It's huge," she said of being able to sub. "It's huge to have that many people who you can trust from player one to player 11 and say 'Go'. And to step in a game when it's close and sometimes you have the lead and sometimes you don't.
"It's nice we have a load of juniors and seniors who have been there, but it's nice to have fresh legs," she added.
Dabkowski led the Eagles with 16 points, followed by Thompson with 12 and Masters with 11. Varvel and McHugh added six points each, with Ericka Minor adding five, Mallory Cash four and Nikki York added two.
South Putnam will host Edgewood Thursday with the junior varsity tipping off at 6 p.m. The game was originally slated for Friday, but was moved due to the football team's regional game at Guerin Catholic.
At South Putnam
Rockville 19 6 15 14 -- 54
South Putnam 16 12 15 19 -- 62
Rockville -- Lee 24, Snodgrass 12, B. Gordon 12, Carrington 3, M. Gordon 2. Totals: 22-63 FG, 5-8 FT, 54 TP.
South Putnam -- Dabkowski 16, Thompson 12, Masters 11, Varvel 6, McHugh 6, Minor 5, Cash 4, York 2. Totals: 25-62 FG, 10-15 FT, 62 TP.