South Putnam claims second county title in four years, Greencastle earns first win
It could not have been a better way to go into Thanksgiving break for the South Putnam and Greencastle girls' basketball teams.
On Saturday, the Eagles cut down the nets, holding off North Putnam, 49-32, in the championship game of the Putnam County Girls' Basketball County Tournament. The title was the second in four years for South Putnam.
In the third place game, Greencastle rolled past Cloverdale, 53-19, for its first victory of the season.
South Putnam overcomes turnovers to defeat North Putnam
Hectic, fast paced and sloppy.
That may be the best way to sum up the championship game of the Putnam County Girls' Basketball County Tournament between South Putnam and North Putnam.
In a game that featured both teams combining for 54 total turnovers, it was South Putnam defending its home floor, picking up a 49-32 win over the Cougars. With the win, the Eagles improve to 4-2 on the season and have won two straight, while the Cougars fell to 4-3 and had a four game win streak snapped.
Gardner said walking off his home floor with the title feels "good for the girls."
"That opportunity for them is what it's about, giving them an opportunity to cut down a net and do those types of things, so it's really good for them. We have to build upon it," Gardner said.
The two teams struggled to keep control of the basketball early in the contest, combining for seven turnovers before a pair of free throws from South Putnam's Drew Gardner attributed for the first points. North Putnam would answer back with a pair of free throws and a basket from Lexi Daigle, but the advantage would be short lived, as the Eagles came roaring right back, as a three pointer from Lillian Emmerich gave the Eagles an 8-4 advantage it would not relinquish.
The frantic pace continued into the second quarter, as South Putnam extended its lead to 16-5 on a three pointer from Lyla Rissler, prompting North Putnam head coach Curtis Lawrence to call a timeout.
Whatever Lawrence said in the huddle resonated with his team, as they managed to trim the lead to 16-12 after a three from Hailee Daigle and a basket from Rose Haste. The two teams would trade baskets down the stretch in the first half, before a pair of free from South Putnam's Danae Cline sent the teams into the lockers with the Eagles holding a slim 20-14 halftime advantage after the two teams combined for 28 total first half turnovers.
South Putnam came out of the lockers and imposed its will early in the third quarter as Chlara Pistelli sparked a 6-0 run and took over the momentum in the game. Despite North Putnam's Lexi Daigle pulling the Cougars to within eight, Pistelli took over again, nailing a basket and a free throw before Cline hit a basket of her own, stretching the South Putnam lead to 33-20 midway through the third quarter. Pistelli would continue to find the basket for the Eagles, giving South Putnam a 37-20 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Pistelli's scoring ways continued into the fourth quarter, as a pair of free throws and a basket gave the Eagles a 43-23 advantage early in the fourth quarter.
For the game, Pistelli finished with 16 total points, and Gardner said she was "big" for the Eagles.
"She was big in the sense that she attacked the rim and did some things that I don't think we did a good job of in the first half. She really did a great job in the second half," Gardner said.
Coming into the Thanksgiving break, Gardner likes the look of his team after winning the county title.
North Putnam, who got 12 from Lexi Daigle against South Putnam, travels to Southmont Tuesday, while the Eagles will hit the hardwood again tonight against Southmont.
Tiger Cubs maul Clovers for third place
Through six games this season, the Greencastle Tiger Cubs had shown signs of being able to play good basketball, and on Saturday night, it all came together for Greencastle, who picked up its first win of the season, dispatching Cloverdale, 53-19. In the win, Greencastle forced Cloverdale into 20 total turnovers, while Evie Briones hit six three pointers and finished with 22 total points.
The win was the first of the season for the Tiger Cubs, who improved to 1-6 under first year head coach Jessica Lenihan, while Cloverdale dropped to 0-6.
Lenihan was all smiles after the win, stating she was "proud" of her team.
For Greencastle, the Tiger Cubs did exactly what Lenihan had asked in her pregame speech, which was push and force the issue.
"Pregame speech we said go out there and push that first quarter. We have been struggling to score right off the bat, so I told them to have confidence, get the ball out and push. I think we stepped up and did that," Lenihan said.
Did they ever, as Greencastle set the tone early in the first quarter, forcing Cloverdale into four turnovers while racing out to a 13-2 lead behind the shooting of Briones, who scored the first five points of the quarter en route to a 14 point first half output.
"Evie is a senior leader, we look for her and we look to her. She carries us and she is stepping into her role really well. I am very proud of her," Lenihan said.
The lead would swell to 23-6 midway through the first half, but the Clovers would cut into the deficit, slightly following a basket from Emily Mann, but Greencastle's defense, combined with the play of Briones sent the teams into the lockers with Greencastle ahead 30-12.
The halftime break did little to slow down Greencastle, who forced Cloverdale into seven turnovers in the third quarter, got five points from Ali Dobbs at the free throw line and held the Clovers scoreless in the third quarter, taking a 40-12 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Cloverdale's Emily Mann would snap the lengthy scoring drought with a basket and free throw to cut the deficit to 41-15 with just over six minutes to play in the game.
The Tiger Cubs continued to pour it on late in the contest, building a 50-18 lead on another three from Briones.
"We knew coming in we would struggle to score after losing two good scorers, so all these girls are finding new roles and we are finding it. I am happy to see that," Lenihan said.
Cloverdale will look for its first win of the season on Nov. 28 when it travels to North Putnam, while the Tiger Cubs will next play Tuesday at Crawfordsville.