Little things make big difference for Eagles
GREENCASTLE -- Sitting at 2-12 on the season, losers of five straight, the South Putnam boys' basketball team needed a fresh start.
That's exactly what coach Micah Elliott and his team have decided to give themselves.
"We started the season rough, and I told the kids, 'There's five games left. We are 0-0 and we have a tournament after our five games,'" Elliott said. "We're not going to worry what happened in the past. It's over. We can't change it. We can only get better for the future."
The Eagles (3-12, 0-5 WCC) moved to 1-0 in that closing stretch with Saturday's 46-30 homecoming win over Riverton Parke (1-13, 1-3 WRC).
While the game was hotly contested at times, the Eagles ultimately did the little things to overcome the outsized Panthers.
"When there was a little bit of lapse, there was one of our kids on the court -- it wasn't a coach making corrections -- it was a players making corrections," Elliott said. "It was the first time we've seen that all year, and that's a big step for us where we can take criticism from our teammates and we can correct it."
The accountability showed, as the Eagles committed just eight turnovers and 11 fouls. The Panthers did not take a single foul shot on the night.
"We dove on the floor more tonight than we have. We attempted to take more charges tonight than we have. The effort was there," he said.
From a scoring standpoint, it was two big runs that made the difference for South.
After falling behind 10-3 midway through the first quarter, the Eagles went on a monster 17-0 run, building the lead to 20-10, before the Panthers scored with 1:12 remaining in the half.
Again in the second half, the Panthers made a run, closing the lead to two at 22-24, before South outscored them 15-0 until late in the fourth quarter.
South Putnam's three seniors led the way offensively, as Adam Masters scored 16 followed by Cameron Chestnut's 14 and Homecoming King Nathan Welty's 12.
The offense wasn't the main thing on Elliott's mind, though.
"There was a kid on the floor who doesn't really show up in the stat books who played a great game defensively. I feel that he really took their best player away from them when he was on the floor, and Dean Varvel did a very, very good job," Elliott said.
"We had a great team defense," he added. "We were in help side. We recovered on shooters. We blocked out. It was a team effort."
Varvel wasn't alone, though, as his junior classmates and the sophomores drew praise from Elliott. He said the underclassmen have stepped up and took on the roles they needed to for the team's success.
The effort, the win, the entire night were indeed therapeutic for Elliott's team. Now he hopes to keep it rolling.
"I think we expect to see more of this team now," he said. "To say that we're where we need to be -- it's not, but the kids are hungry. This is a big win for us."
In junior varsity action, the Eagles took down the Panthers 42-32.
At South Putnam
Riverton Parke 10 4 10 6 -- 30
South Putnam 9 13 8 16 -- 46
Riverton Parke (1-13, 1-3 WRC) -- Lientz 6-17 0-0 13, Helton 4-8 0-0 9, Stites 2-7 0-0 5, Vauters 1-3 0-0 3, Yeargin 0-1 0-0 0, Daugherty 0-1 0-0 0, Secuskie 0-1 0-0 0, Hardesty 0-1 0-0 0, Engle 0-5 0-0 0, Hill 0-2 0-0 0. Team totals: 13-46 FG, 0-0 FT, 30 points.
South Putnam (3-12, 0-5 WCC) -- Masters 7-16 2-6 16, Chestnut 6-8 2-4 14, Welty 2-12 8-10 12, Stanton 1-2 0-0 2, Varvel 1-3 0-0 2, Gibson 0-3 0-0 0, Freeman 0-5 0-2 0. Team totals: 17-49 FG, 12-20 FT, 46 points.
3-pt. FG--RP 4-19 (Lientz 1-6, Stites 1-3, Helton 1-2, Vauters 1-2, Engle 0-4, Yeargin 0-1, Daugherty 0-1), SP 0-8 (Freeman 0-4, Welty 0-3, Gibson 0-1). Turnovers--RP 21, SP 8. Total fouls--RP 18, SP 11. Fouled out--Stites (RP).