MARSHALL -- South Putnam coach Troy Burgess recorded his first win as head basketball coach of the Eagles on Wednesday evening.
Sophomore Trey Moore scored 22 points to lead the Eagles to a 44-38 victory at Turkey Run.
"It feels great. More importantly, I'm happy for the kids. They worked hard this summer, put in a lot of time and we're working on short notice. With football going as long as it did, we've only had a half-dozen practices with our whole group," Burgess said.
Both squads started slowly as South's defense was quick to close down Warrior shooters, allowing only eight shots and seven points in the opening period.
At the same time, however, the Eagles struggled from the field, converting on only three of the first 17 shots they attempted.
Trailing 7-6 at the end of the first, South Putnam found an offensive groove with sophomore Trey Moore and senior Seth Hammond putting in six points apiece in the second quarter.
But for every score South had, Turkey Run's Jeff Woods had an answer. The junior guard poured in 14 of his game-high 25 in the second, which accounted for all of the Warriors' points in the frame.
By the end of the first half, a four-point play from Woods gave Turkey Run a 21-20 lead in a game that had already seen eight lead changes and three ties.
The second half proved to be just as exciting, with two more ties and seven more lead changes before the final horn.
After Woods ran rampant in the second quarter, the Eagle defense made things difficult for the Turkey Run guard and Burgess was quick to credit two members of his squad for their work.
"I thought Rob (Gibson) and (Justin) Bumgardner did a great job on him in the second half. We rotated those two guys with no help. They had one job to do in the second half and that was to keep him from getting the ball," Burgess said.
"That's why it's a team game. Rob didn't shoot the ball well tonight, but he chased Woods all around this gym tonight. When he had to come out and take a break, Justin came in and did a tremendous job on him.
"I though those two kids did a tremendous job defensively and did what we asked them to do," Burgess added.
South took the lead 15 seconds into the third with a Moore lay-up. The Eagles held the lead for most of the period but couldn't create much separation from the hosts.
Woods knocked down his fourth three-pointer of the game with 0:20 on the clock to cut the Eagle lead to two at 30-28 heading into the final period.
Woods scored the opening five points in the fourth quarter to give the Warriors the lead before Moore hit a jumper and had a lay-up scored when Turkey Run's Riley Sunderman committed a goaltending violation.
Dallas Thomas retook the lead for the Warriors before Moore scored his 22nd point to give the Eagles the lead for good at the 4:33 mark of the final period.
Hammond and Sawyer Arnold scored four points each down the stretch to settle the game and hand the Eagles and Burgess the first victory of the 2011-2012 season.
For Burgess, the win was exciting for all involved.
"To come out and play like we did tonight, the effort was the bottom line tonight. We won the game on second chances and inside the paint."
The interior of the Eagle squad was constantly rotating due to inexperience and foul trouble.
"Alex [Kelley] and Ryan [Chestnut] both got in foul trouble early," Burgess said. "Alex hasn't played since he was a freshman and Ryan didn't play last year so there's two post players with a combined total of zero minutes in anything aside from a freshman or JV game.
"It's going to take some time for those guys to get their feet wet. [Sunderman] was a banger, and our kids banged back, Ryan especially."
"He's going to get in there and mix it up but when they're going to call it close, we've got to learn to play better defense with our feet. Those are correctable things," Burgess added.
"Fortunately, Trey came in and had a great game on both ends of the floor for us."
The Eagles' next game is a major one as South Putnam travels to Anderson to play the Indians. Burgess said it was a great early season opportunity for the Eagles to play a quality team.
"They're going to have tremendous athletes -- they play in the North Central Conference and are a 4A school. We wanted to do this early on. We're going to go there and compete and play basketball," Burgess said. "The goal is the same goal every coach has. We're not trying to play our best basketball right now. We're hoping we're playing it in February."
At Turkey Run
South Putnam 6 14 10 14 -- 44
Turkey Run 7 14 7 10 -- 38
South Putnam -- 16-53 FG, 2-15 3-FG, 10-12 FT
Moore 22, Hammond 10, Arnold 6, Chestnut 4, Pell 2
Turkey Run -- 13-44 FG, 6-18 3-FG, 6-9 FT
Woods 25, Sunderman 6, Jeffers 3, Amstutz 2, Thomas 2
Next Game: South Putnam travels to Anderson High School at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.