GREENCASTLE — Southmont continues to re-write the school history books. Coming into the Friday night’s sectional semi-final against North Putnam, the Mounties needed just a single victory to break the school record for wins in a season. While it wasn’t easy by any means, Southmont was able to do just that by defeating the Cougars for a second time this season by a final score of 52-43 to advance to the sectional championship and pick up win number 18 on the season.
The Mounties jumped out to a quick 12-2 lead before the Cougars came back to make just a 16-11 ball game after the opening quarter. Southmont built a 28-20 lead going into halftime but the Cougars just would not go away making just a 39-28 deficit heading into the final quarter. At the 3:29 mark of the final quarter, Zach Huff drilled a three for the Cougars to even up the score at 43-43. Those would be the last points North Putnam would score as an Avery Saunders layup would put the Mounites for good. Southmont made their free-throws late to score the last nine and walk away with the win.
“We knew this was going to be a challenge,” Southmont coach Jake Turner. “I didn’t plan on playing so much zone tonight, but it was working. That caused them to stand around a bit. We’ve been in close games all year and in most of our losses have been in those games where we’ve had a chance to tie or take the lead late. Tonight we were just really patient and trusted each other and executed down the stretch and finished on a 9-0 run. I couldn’t be prouder of my guys but we know we still have one more.”
The Mounties had three score in double figures led by Avery Saunders and EJ Brewer who each scored 13 to lead Southmont. Carson Chadd added in 10 points while Logan Oppy scored nine.
Zach Huff led all scorers for North Putnam with 15 points as the Cougars end their season with a record of 19-5.
Southmont for the game shot 58 percent from the field (19-33) and out-rebounded the Cougars 25-16 while committing 12 turnovers to North Putnam’s 15.
“I told the guys that the game was going to come down to not giving up anything easy, rebounding the basketball, and you take care of the basketball,” Turner said. “For the most part we took care of the ball. Our rebounding wasn’t as good as it normally is, but that’s because it’s hard to rebound out of a zone. All of our guys found ways to contribute tonight. Carson made some tough shots, Logan just didn’t settle for threes, EJ got some great buckets at the basket, then Avery was Avery, and he found a way to score.”
Turner took a moment to talk about the historic 18th win for his team. Southmont overall on the season improves to 18-6. The Mounties checked another goal off their to-do list and did it when the stakes were the highest. While the success on the court is because of the hard work that the Mounties have put in, Turner also noted about the fantastic support that his team has gotten over the course of this entire season and gave a special shout out to the Mountie faithful.
“I can’t talk enough about the support that we’ve had from our fans,” he said. “They’ve given us a fan tunnel the last two games as we’ve boarded the bus, parents have made t-shirts for us and now we even have a catchphrase. This has been really fun to be a part of and I really appreciate the way our guys just continue to work hard on an every day basis. Building up to this year has been a process and now we’re finally reaping the rewards of the work we’ve put in.”
Southmont in the sectional championship game will square off with a opponent in the Parke Heritage Wolves who defeated South Putnam in the other semi-final. In the final week of the regular season on Feb. 22 Southmont fell 46-43 to the Wolves on the road. This time the Wolves and Mounties will match up with everything at stake.
“They’re an extremely physical and well coached team,” Turner said of the Wolves. They’re hard to score against and are disciplined on defense. We’re going to enjoy tonight just a little bit longer though and relish in it. I hope everyone is able to come back out tomorrow night and supports us.”
The sectional championship between the Mounties and Wolves will tip off at 7 p.m. back at South Putnam. A win for the Mounties will give them their first sectional title since 1994.
Southmont 52, North Putnam 43
Score By Quarters
SM 16 12 11 13 - 52
NP 11 9 18 5 - 43
Southmont (18-7): FG-FGA FT-FTA PTS: Avery Saunders 4-6 5-7 13, EJ Brewer 5-6 2-2 13, Carson Chadd 5-7 0-0 10, Logan Oppy 2-6 5-6 9, Carter Hubble 2-3 0-0 4, Trip Ward 1-1 0-0 3, Kion Cornelius 0-1 0-0 0, Team 0-3 0-0 0; Totals 19-33 12-15 52
North Putnam (19-5)
Zach Huff 6-13 0-3 15, Ellis Lyons 3-6 1-1 8, Aaron Pickel 2-6 3-4 8, Brayden Monnett 3-9 0-0 8, Nolan Hackleman 1-4 1-2 4; Totals 15-38 5-10 43
3-Point Shooting: Southmont 2-7 (Brewer, Ward), North Putnam 8-27 (Huff 3, Monnett 2, Lyons, Pickel, Hackleman)
Rebounds: Southmont 25 (Saunders 7), North Putnam 16
Turnovers: Southmont 12, North Putnam 15