One quarter. That is what stood between South Putnam coming away with a win over Monrovia in a West Central Conference game Friday. The Eagles suffered a stagnant third quarter, which allowed the Bulldogs to build enough of a lead to sneak away with a 58-54 victory.
South Putnam battled back from a seven-point first quarter deficit to trail the Bulldogs by a single point, 26-25, at halftime. Junior Trey Moore took control of the game in the second quarter and scoring 11 points to pace the Eagles to put his team in great position at the break.
To open the second half, Monrovia's Chase Casteel found his game, scoring 10 points as the Bulldogs outscored the Eagles 22-9 in the quarter for a 48-34 edge going into the fourth quarter.
But instead of packing it in and looking toward its next contest, South Putnam showed it still had some fight left in them going into the final period.
South Putnam utilized a pressing defense to close the gap and put itself in position to play for the win. However, untimely turnovers and missed shots sealed the Eagles fate late in the contest.
The players found themselves as close as four points at 50-46, but Monrovia was able to convert its free throws to come away the win.
Another glaring stat came in the free throw department. South Putnam only managed 50 percent from the line and South Putnam head coach Troy Burgess said his team will need to do a better job of converting its freebies.
"We have to become more consistent," he said. "We can't have a bad quarter against good teams. We can't miss double-digit free throws against good teams and win ball games. It sure as heck wasn't a lack of effort. I'm proud of the way they played. At one point we're down eight going into the fourth quarter, and I said 'Let's cut this in half,' and I look up and we're down 4. We still battled back and had a chance to win the game."
Monrovia head coach Micah Elliott served as the Eagles head coach from 2008-2011. Burgess took over for Elliott following the 2011 season and praised the former head coach for a nice win Friday.
"I'm proud of our kids -- I'm proud of our effort," Burgess said. "Monrovia is a good ball club. Coach (Micah) Elliott, I'm happy for him. He did a good job tonight. I know it's a big win for him. He's a great guy and a good coach and I'm happy for him."
South Putnam had different guys step up at different times Friday and Burgess said that's what he expects to see. He went on to explain that his team's strength is in the post and how his team needs to execute to be successful.
"When we buy into that and understand it all has to start inside, then we can get the kickouts and get those threes," Burgess said. "We have some guys that can hit threes, so when you get (Ryan) Chestnut, Trey (Moore) and Bum (Justin Bumgardner) down in the post, they are tough to defend. We have to understand that and reverse the ball and get it into them for those kickouts."
Burgess also pointed out his team needs to believe in what is happening on the practice court and not listen to what people on the outside are saying.
"Our guys have to buy into what we are doing," he said. "They can't listen to outside influences. They have to buy into what's going on in the gym everyday with the coaches and players. When we do that, we're very good. Everybody gets their looks -- gets their shots -- but when we get away from that and start to (not) listen to outside things. That's when we do things that aren't what we do."
Moore led the Eagles with 20 points, with Ryan Chestnut adding 14. Logan Pell scored five, with Bumgardner adding five, Sawyer Arnold four and Klayton Vittetow three. Trevor Long chipped in two points in the loss.
South Putnam is on the road tonight against Tri-West. The contest is set for a 7:30 p.m. tip.
At South Putnam
Monrovia 15 11 22 10 -- 58
South Putnam 8 17 9 20 -- 54
Monrovia: Bolton 15, Casteel 15, Benge 12, Gray 9, Hale 4, Shover 2, Fite 1. Totals: 19-40 FG, 16-21 FT, 58 TP.
South Putnam: Moore 20, R. Chestnut 14, Pell 6, Bumgardner 5, Arnold 4, Vittetow 3, Long 2. Totals: 20-39 FG, 11-23 FT, 54 TP.