South Putnam's boys' basketball squad opened the season in a big way on Monday night.
With Turkey Run arriving for the Eagles' home opener, the hosts used a big rebounding advantage and a 26 point outburst from Sawyer Arnold to win 56-37.
The junior guard was not shy about shooting, scoring 10 points in the opening frame and was only slowed down by a neck injury in the first half.
Meanwhile, the Eagles as a whole shot near 50 percent from the field in the first quarter to build an early 18-10 advantage.
They would need it as the second quarter saw the hoop shrink considerably for the South Putnam offense.
The hosts mustered only three points in the period, coinciding with Arnold's absence for much of the quarter.
At the same time, the Eagle defense kept Turkey Run at bay by only giving up seven points and limiting the Warriors mainly to one shot possession by winning the rebounding battle.
While the theme on defense remained the same, South Putnam's offense came back out in the third quarter.
Arnold hit two more three point shots in the quarter, bringing his tally to 18 for the game at that point to spark the offense to a 14-11 third quarter advantage and a 35-28 lead.
The seven point advantage was never threatened in the final frame as the Eagles commanded the defensive glass throughout the quarter.
Meanwhile, South Putnam knocked down 12 of 14 free throws, compared to 5 of 12 for Turkey Run over the final eight minutes.
The combination of rebounding and free throws prevented the Warriors from making any sort of serious comeback attempt and the Eagles cruised in for their first victory of the 2012-2013 season.
South Putnam head coach Troy Burgess said that for the opening game of the season, the squad executed well.
"We played well. We played hard defensively but we missed a lot of open looks. We did a very job of getting to the basket, just didn't finish the way we need to finish," Burgess said.
"For a first game, if you told me we'd get a 19-point win, I'd take it. I'm happy for the kids."
While shooting may not have been great all the time, Burgess said that winning the battle on the boards was important.
"I thought it was huge. We hope that rebounding is a strength of ours. We've got pretty good size inside with (Ryan) Chestnut and other kids with size who can get off the floor well," Burgess said.
"That's something we've got to do. We talk everyday about being able to play defense and rebound the ball. I thought tonight, as these are the two things we've stressed since day one, that's what we did well tonight."
Rebounding and defense were important, Burgess said, especially during a difficult second quarter.
"When we go back and watch the film, I think we'll see that we got to the basket well but we couldn't buy one," Burgess said.
"We scored three in the second quarter and they only scored seven. To have a quarter that bad and only lose it by four points means were doing something well on the defensive end.
"There are going to be nights or quarters during a game where we just can't get one to go, but there's no excuse not to play defense and rebound," Burgess added.
"Because we were able to play good half-court defense and rebound, we were able to keep ourselves in the game even though we couldn't get the ball in the basket."
South Putnam will not play again until after Thanksgiving against Danville. Burgess said the game would be a good test to see how the squad was preparing for the Putnam County Classic later that week.
"It's a great game to help prepare us for the county tournament next weekend. We're on the road, playing a team that's traditionally very good and very well coached," Burgess said.
"They're physical and they've got good athletes. It's a great opportunity for us to try to get better going into the county tournament. We want to do well then and this is a good opportunity to prepare and work on some things leading into it."
At South Putnam
Turkey Run 10 7 11 9 -- 37
South Putnam 18 3 14 21 -- 56
Turkey Run 13-41 FG, 1-9 3-FG, 10-19 FT
Sunderman 13, Amstutz 12, Thomas 4, Budd 4, Russell 2, Ashley 1, Nevins 1
South Putnam 17-50 FG, 6-11 3-FG, 16-23 FT
Arnold 26, Moore 12, Pell 5, Long 5, Chestnut 5, Bumgardner 3
Turkey Run 19, South Putnam 34
Turkey Run 14, South Putnam 13
Turkey Run 19, South Putnam 18
Next Game: South Putnam travels to Danville next Tuesday.