Eagles keep Wolves at bay for fifth-straight win

Friday, January 27, 2023
South Putnam's Griffin Garner gets up a jumper while being fouled during the second half of Friday night's first-time meeting against Providence Cristo Rey. The Eagles started off hot but slowed as the game went on but had a big enough lead to see off the Wolves 58-48.
Banner Graphic/TRENT SCOTT

A fresh matchup awaited South Putnam ahead of a two-week break as Providence Cristo Rey visited for a first-time boys’ basketball game Friday night.

The Eagles got off to an explosive start thanks to four Cam Bozell threes in the opening quarter and built up a 15-point lead in the second quarter but struggles from the line allowed the Wolves to close to as close as six points before the hosts gathered a 58-48 win.

“(Providence Cristo Rey’s) athleticism and length gave us some problems,” South Putnam head coach Kyle Swafford said. “They play such a different style of basketball than we’ve seen. It’s a first for us to see that style and it’s hard to prepare for.

“We were able to make some shots, got some people going early and we needed that because they got some shots to fall, beat us to some loose balls and put us in bad spots. I give my guys credit for hanging in there.”

Bozell notched three of his four threes to open up the game with a Drew Hill basket added in in the early goings.

Anthony Hayes kept Providence Cristo Rey (1-13) close with seven points but Hill and Bozell hit late threes as South Putnam (9-5) led 19-12 after a quarter of play.

Wyatt Mullin and Wyatt Switzer scored baskets before a pair of Hill threes helped push the lead out to double-figures.

The lead reached 15 off a Hill basket as the Eagles took a 35-21 lead into the break.

Hayes and Jason Johnson hit early threes to start the second half with the hosts countering by finding Griffin Garner and Zach Dorsett on the inside as both had two three-point play opportunities but could not convert them.

“We could have stretched the lead out if we had hit our free throws,” Swafford noted as the home side was 6-of 16 at the line. “We’ve won some games by making free throws and its an area we need to refocus on.

“We talked at halftime that (Providence Cristo Rey) was playing behind our big guys and we didn’t even need to score because getting it inside forced their defense to shift and our guys move well off the ball, especially when it goes inside. We got some good touches around the rim but still didn’t do it often enough.”

Johnson also struggled at the free throw line but Marcus Allen added five points as the Wolves cut the lead to nine at 48-39 after three quarters of play.

Play began to break down in the fourth quarter as the visitors were able to cut the gap to 52-46 off baskets from Hayes, Javion Newell and a Johnson three.

Hill turned a block into a second-chance layup while Austen Branam was able to settle the game in the closing minutes by hitting 3-of-4 free throws.

South Putnam returns to action at the Putnam County Classic Feb. 9 against Cloverdale with Swafford looking at the down time as a chance to refocus ahead of the final third of the season.

“The break comes at a good time for us because we’ve got some guys that are banged up and we need to get them healthy,” Swafford said. “We’ve played our third-straight game without Jeremiah (Hibbeln), who can score at all three levels and is tough defensively.

“It’s been good for us to have some guys in different roles and out of their comfort zone but we want to get guys healthy as we want to go in to county at as close to 100 percent as we can. We also need to regain some of our focus and go from there.”

Providence Cristo Rey12918948
South Putnam1916131058


Providence Cristo Rey (13 2FG; 6 3FG; 4-15 FT) — Hayes 17, Johnson 15, Allen 10, Newell 4, Cabanas

South Putnam (14 2FG; 8 3FG; 6-16 FT) — Hill 22, Bozell 14, Dorsett 6, Garner 5, Branam 5, Switzer 4, Mullin 2

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