After a heart breaking loss to Cloverdale the night before, South Putnam boys' basketball team had to turn around and prepare for its own homecoming game against Riverton Parke Saturday night.
A sluggish start gave way to a strong ending as the Eagles broke through in the fourth quarter to take a 40-32 win over the visiting Panthers.
The Eagles showed signs of a hangover from the Friday night loss in the first quarter as they fell behind 6-0 halfway through the opening frame and down 12-3 by quarter's end.
Riverton Parke couldn't take advantage of its lead for long as the hosts chipped away at the nine-point deficit and tied the game on a Logan Pell three-point basket.
The Panthers rattled off the next six points and took a four-point lead into halftime at 22-18.
After the break, the visitors scored the opening basket but would not score again until South Putnam had tied the game at 24-24.
But the Eagles could not find a way to take the lead, even with numerous opportunities to do so. The sides traded baskets and tied the scores four times in the period, including at 30-30 when the quarter finished.
The hosts finally broke through at the 5:58 mark when Justin Bumgardner knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Eagles a 32-30 advantage.
Riverton Parke tied the score two minutes later at 32-32 but would not score again in the game.
Trey Moore scored the go-ahead basket with 2:40 to go on the clock, followed by a three from Sawyer Arnold that broke the Riverton Parke resistance.
Free throws from Pell and Alex Kelly helped salt the game away as the Eagles picked up their sixth win of the season.
South Putnam head coach Troy Burgess said that the slow start wasn't unexpected but that the response was what the coaching staff wanted.
"We worried about a hangover from last night, but even down 12-3 I felt like we could still take advantage of them inside. I thought we were better and more physical inside than they were," Burgess said.
"We knew it was going to be a grind-it-out type of game and the officials were going to let us play tonight, which is fine. I thought if we could make some stops defensively and get back in it, I thought we'd be fine in the second half.
"The kids did that. They did a nice job in the second quarter of getting back in the game and in the second half, from the four minute mark in the third quarter, we held them to six points and two field goals in the second half," Burgess added.
Burgess added that key to the late success was simply getting the lead from the Panthers.
"(Riverton Parke) is a good team when they're ahead. They can play five guards and they can all handle the ball very well. At some point, we needed to get the lead," Burgess said.
"I felt that if we got the lead and the ball, we'd be pretty good because we could do what we wanted to do with the ball. But with the ball and the lead, they're pretty tough to catch.
"But our kids did a nice job when they needed to get stops. We held them to one offensive rebound in the second half. We did the things we needed to do," Burgess added.
"The kids stepped up after a tough loss last night and I'm proud of them. I'm proud of the way they came back tonight."
South Putnam travels to North Putnam next Friday, and Burgess said that he expects a rough-and-tumble contest.
"It's going to be a physical game. They're a physical group of kids. I've seen enough of Nate Bryan through three or four years on the football field," Burgess said.
"They're athletic, physical and they're on a good streak. We're going to have to continue doing what we do. We're going to have to play well with them inside, try to match their physicality," Burgess added.
"But, most importantly, we must take care of the basketball."
At South Putnam
Riverton Parke 12 10 8 2 -- 32
South Putnam 3 15 12 10 -- 40
Riverton Parke -- 13-56 FG, 0-14 3-FG, 6-7 FT
Vauters 12, Haltom 6, Hill 4, Edge 4, Wilson 2, Stohler 2, Secuskie 2
South Putnam -- 13-43 FG, 2-11 3-FG, 12-19 FT
Moore 12, Pell 7, Arnold 5, Bumgardner 5, Kelly 5, Gibson 4, Hammond 2