Eagles battle, fall to Rox in 2OT 56-50
ROCKVILLE -- The South Putnam Eagles boys' basketball team travelled to Rockville High School to take on the Rox for a Friday night showdown.
The game was full of the momentum swings and drama that you would expect for a double overtime game but the Eagles ended up falling 56-50.
"I could not be more proud of a group of kids. 30 years of coaching and this is the most proud I have ever been of a group of kids," South Putnam head coach Troy Burgess said. "To come here and play under these conditions in this place, with that kind of officiating,
"I am so proud of my kids. They battled and I am prouder than I have ever been. Give Rockville credit too, they played hard and they are a good ballclub."
South Putnam (1-5, 0-1 WCC) fell behind early in the first two minutes 5-0 and Rockville looked to be in full control but after a 3-pointer by senior Sawyer Arnold, two free throws tied it at five at the early going.
Rockville (3-2) scored most of its points in the first frame via the 3-point shot; on six made buckets, four of them were 3-pointers. Contrastingly South Putnam only made one in the quarter.
In the second quarter, the building fell silent and it began to become a very chippy game with many fouls being called.
Late in the quarter Arnold stole the ball from freshman Lance Hopkins and headed toward the basket for an easy layup but Hopkins slammed into Arnold hard. There was no call and the ball was given to the Rox.
Hopkins elbowed Arnold in the head and somewhere in the collision, Arnold completely tore the ligaments that remained in his knee, ending his basketball season. He was helped off the court to a standing ovation from both teams and their respective fans.
Arnold tore his ACL during the football postseason and was delaying surgergy.
"The knee finally gave. He has torn everything, he is probably done," Burgess said.
From this point on, a fire was lit under the Eagles' wings and they stormed back from an 11-point deficit with two minutes left in the second quarter.
The Eagles outscored the Rox 10-9 in the third quarter and although through the first three quarters senior Trey Moore shot eight times and scored nine points, the fouth quarter turned into Trey Moore Time.
The Eagles scored 17 points in the frame and held the Rox to just nine.
"We had to keep out heads up. We had to play hard but not let the emotion get to us," Moore said.
Both ballhandlers for the Eagles were out, Arnold (injury) and senior Derrick Mitchell (fouls), so Moore was the main ballhandler and guarding him was 5-foot-7 junior Keiontre Wilkey, a size difference of nine inches.
Moore took over the game and scored 14 points of the total 17 for the Eagles in the quarter.
"Trey played great. He played hard and great guts, he's a good player for us. He has got to keep getting better but I thought our whole team played great, I'm very very proud of them" Burgess said.
In the fourth the Rox held a 41-33 lead with 3:37 left in the game and looked to seal it with a defensive stop and a basket at the other end. Instead, Moore drove to the basket, made the shot, drew the foul and promtly sank the foul shot.
Up five the Rox tried to stall with the ball at the other end and did so effectively for over a minute but with 2:32 left sophomore Jimmy Rutter stole the ball, dumped it to Moore who finished at the bucket to cut the lead to three, 41-38.
There was no more scoring until just under 1 minute left in the fourth. Off of a missed free throw the Rox got the offensive rebound and tried to put it back up immediately but sophomore Trevor Long was there to blast the shot away. Moore drove the ball up the court and finished at the other end to cut the lead to one with 41.0 remaining.
Moore then scored again with 15 seconds left to take the first Eagle lead of the game, 42-41. Wilkey then brought the ball up and without hesitation as he reached the 3-point line drained a three to take the lead 44-42.
Moore then had to step up to the line after a foul, down by two. He missed both free throws and the ball bounded out of bounds. With 6.9 seconds left, down by two, the Rox had the ball and the Eagles chances looked all but over.
Somehow Moore got a hand on the inbounds pass, picked up the ball, went to the basket, made the shot and got a chance to take the lead with 3.0 seconds at the line with a 3-point play. Moore missed and the game was headed to overtime tied at 44.
Not much scoring or drama in the first overtime and the game went to a second tied 48 all.
In the second overtime, though, the Eagles lack of available guards caught up with them and the Rox got to the line and kept hitting their free throws, putting the game away.
"As a team we will continue to improve. We have made some big improvements just in the last few games. I was proud of us tonight," Moore said.
The Eagles only attempted five 3-pointers and shot 55 percent from the floor.
"We are not a 3-point shooting team. We have to get it to the basket and try to get to the free throw line and finish. I thought we did a good job of that tonight," Burgess said.
South Putnam had a tough time on the boards on the night being outrebounded offensively 14-10.
"It was not very good. Give Rockville credit, they are very long and athletic," Burgess said. "Their kids know how to jump well. We need to get better and we need to work on blocking out. We were half a step short and that is what allowed them to go up and get them."
The Eagles will look to overcome this heartbreaking loss and the loss of Arnold to gain some momentum over the holiday break.
"Our heart goes out to that kid (Arnold), I love that kid. We all love him. He is still a big part of our team, he is going to be with us but not on the floor," Burgess said.
"It's hard to replace a guy like Sawyer," Moore said. "That kid tries his absolute heart out every game he played in. I mean he was playing with a half torn ACL as it was. His effort meant so much to us.
"I'm proud to call him a brother. Everyone has to step in. Everyone has to chip in. Make no mistake Sawyer will be there every game. Just because he is not playing doesn't mean he is not with us."
Moore lead the team on the night with 29 points and nine rebounds and his last words about Sawyer may be the most meaningful to Arnold himself and the South Putnam community.
"He will be the heart of this team."
South Putnam (50): Moore 12-22 5-8 29, Arnold 1-2 2-2 5, Masters 2-2 1-2 5, Long 2-4 0-2 4, Rutter 1-3 1-3 3, Mitchell 1-5 0-0 2, Vittetow 1-5 0-0 2. Total: 20-47 (1-5) 9-17, 50.
Rockville (56): Griffin 15, Wilkey 15, Hopkins 11, Paddock 5, Thurman 5, Leach 4, Laney 2. Total: 11-35 (8-27) 10-17, 56.
S. Putnam.......11 6 10 17 4 2 -- 50
Rockville........16 10 9 9 4 8 -- 56
SP: Moore 9-3, Rutter 8-3, Long 7-3, Vittetow 2-1, Arnold 2-0, Mitchell 2-0, Chestnut 1-0, Masters 1-0. R: 32-14.
SP 17, R 17.
Assists: Chestnut 3, Arnold 1, Carmicheal, Masters. Steals: Moore 2, Arnold, Long, Rutter.
JV: SP 37, R 30