Late lead slips away from Eagles in road loss

Wednesday, November 23, 2016
South Putnam's Allen Plunkett elevates in traffic for two of his seven points in Tuesday's season opener for the Eagles.
Banner Graphic/CAREY FOX

CLAY CITY ó An opening night victory slipped through South Putnamís hands Tuesday evening at Clay City High School.

The Eagles let an eight-point lead with three minutes remaining in the game get away as the Eels came away with a 49-45 victory in both teamsí season opening contest.

Free throw shooting proved pivotal at the end as South Putnam missed multiple chances at salting the game away down the stretch, hitting just 2-of-10 from the foul line in the final quarter. The Eels, meanwhile, used free throws to their advantage with a 9-of-10 effort in the fourth quarter that aided the comeback.

There was little consistent flow to the game for either squad in a contest that was marred by foul trouble on both sides.

Eaglesí sophomore Allen Plunkett, the teamís leading returning scorer at 15 points per game last year, spent much of the evening on the bench with foul trouble.

However, in a game that included a total of 45 fouls, the Eels came out heavily ahead in the free throw column by hitting 17-of-21 overall while the Eagles made just 8-of-20.

The Eagles performed admirably in the first half despite Plunkett picking up his second foul just three minutes into the game. The talented 6-5 sophomore, who was the third highest scoring freshman in the state last year, went to the bench for the remainder of the first half.

Meanwhile, the Eagles responded without Plunkett to stay within a point, 21-20, at halftime.

Both squads suffered heavy foul issues, as Clay City had three players with three fouls at halftime and the Eagles had four players with two fouls.

The lead see-sawed in the third quarter as each team hit some big shots.

The Eagles got a pair of 3-pointers from Thomas Fanning and a pair of free throws from Plunkett to get rolling. Plunkett, finally back on the court, knocked home a 3-pointer and Fanningís driving lay-up at the buzzer put the Eagles on top 35-28.

South Putnam built the lead to 43-35 as Plunkett scored on a drive to the hoop and was fouled. However, he missed the foul shot as South Putnam led with 2:58 left.

Clay Cityís Brenan Walker responded with a drive and Drew Steward followed with a 3-pointer from the corner for the Eels to narrow the gap to 43-40. Gavin Myers added a bucket and suddenly the Eaglesí lead was just 43-42 with 1:07 remaining.

The Eagles had a chance to extend the lead as Lane Watson went to the free throw line, but he missed both shots. The Eels responded as Walker was fouled and hit both of his chances to put the Eels on top 44-43.

The Eagles were whistled for an offensive foul at the other end and Clay City added another free throw. South Putnamís Dalton Scott nailed a baseline jumper to tie the game, but Fanning was whistled for a foul in the back court, sending Walker back to the free throw line with 6.3 seconds to go.

Walker hit both shots to put the game away as South Putnam turned the ball over with one second left on the clock as the Eels escaped with the win.

Scott led the Eagles with 12 points and 12 rebounds in the loss while Fanning also had 12 points for the Eagles.

Clay City (49) -- Myers 2-3 0-0 4, Crosby 3-8 2-2 9, Yocom 1-2 0-0 2, Walker 2-14 12-14 17, Farmer 0-2 2-2 2, Farris 4-4 1-3 9, Steward 2-5 0-0 6, Butts 0-1 0-0 0, Edmondson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-39 17-21 49.

South Putnam (45) -- Fanning 4-9 1-3 12, Plunkett 2-9 2-3 7, Arnold 2-3 1-3 5, Watson 0-3 0-2 0, Scott 4-12 4-9 12, VanSickle 0-0 0-0 0, Schnepp 2-3 0-0 5, Zeffel 2-3 0-0 4. Totals: 16-37 8-20 45.

Clay City 6 15 7 21 - 49

South Putnam 9 11 15 10 - 45

3-point field goals - CC 4-12 (Steward 2-3, Crosby 1-2, Walker 1-6, Yocom 0-1), SP 5-14 (Fanning 3-8, Schnepp 1-1, Plunkett 1-2, Watson 0-2, Scott 0-1). Total Rebounds- CC 29 (Farmer 6), SP 28 (Scott 12). Total Fouls - CC 23, SP 22. Fouled out - CC (Myers), SP (Fanning, Plunkett). Turnovers - CC 12, SP 12.

JV game: Clay City won 38-21.

Next game: South Putnam (0-1) hosts Turkey Run on Nov. 29.

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