The South Putnam boys' basketball team welcomed the Class A No. 2 ranked Rockville Rox to town Friday and showed its 4-2 start to the season is no fluke. The Eagles lost to the Rox 58-42 after a tough end to the contest.
For three quarters, South Putnam banged and challenged the Rox, keeping pace with them every step of the way. However, the Eagles went ice cold in the fourth quarter, failing to record a single point and committing uncharacteristic turnovers throughout the quarter. Yet, their head coach was still proud of their efforts.
"I'm very proud of our kids," South Putnam head coach Troy Burgess said. "I thought they played with a lot heart and a lot of emotion and intensity. They played extremely well through three quarters against the No. 2 ranked team in the state. The fourth quarter I thought we ran out of gas a little bit, but you have to give all the credit to Rockville. Rockville is a good basketball team. They took everything we could throw a them.
"They're well coached, they're a great team and you have to give them credit for the win. We didn't lose this game, Rockville beat us."
South Putnam's Sawyer Arnold wielded a hot hand, scoring the game's first five points and leading the Eagles in the early going. SPHS held a small advantage, but Rockville's Jordan McFall blistering outside shooting performance gave the Rox a 17-13 after one quarter of play.
The two squads continued to trade buckets in the second quarter, with Rockville holding a 32-27 advantage at the half. Arnold led the Eagles with 14 points, while McFall had 18 for Rockville going six-for-seven from three-point range.
South Putnam was able to neutralize Rockville's main threat, Lane Mahurin, who scored just four points in the first half. But things would change in the second half.
After giving up eight three-point field goals in the first half, South Putnam switched up its approach and Mahurin was finally able to find his groove. Mahurin went four-of-six from the field in the third quarter to keep Rockville in front 49-42 entering the fourth quarter.
"You have to give up something on that inside out, so we handled him (Mahurin) and gave up some easy threes in the first half. In the second half we thought 'OK, we better get out on those shooters' and when you do that, he's is tough to handle. They're not many guys in the state that can guard him one-on-one when he gets it inside the lane," Burgess said.
In the final frame, South Putnam committed numerous traveling turnovers and struggled to find the basket. The Eagles failed to score in the final quarter, but Rockville didn't fare much better. The Rox scored just two baskets, but added three free throws to sneak away with a 58-42 win.
Burgess once again praised Rockville's win and the efforts of his squad in Friday's loss.
"They're a good ball club. They're well coaches, they're classy and they play hard -- and so do we. I'm proud of our kids, but we just didn't have enough in the gas tank there at the end," he said.
At South Putnam
Rockville 17 15 17 9 -- 58
South Putnam 13 14 15 0 -- 42
Rockville -- McFall 24, Mahurin 17, Ulrich 10, Waltz 5, Wilke 2. Totals: 21-38 FG, 7-9 FT, 58 TP.
South Putnam -- Arnold 17, Moore 7, Bumgardner 6, Pell 6, Chestnut 6. Totals: 16-31 FG, 3-4 FT, 42 TP.