GRANVILLE — The Yorkville Christian Mustangs extended their season one more game while ending Putnam County’s in the Feb. 26 semifinal action at the Putnam County 1A regional with a 74-43 win over the host Panthers.
Maintaining a lead throughout the game, but with the Panthers in the rear-view mirror in the first half, the Mustangs stepped on the gas in the third quarter, outscoring Putnam County 29-6 to turn a commanding lead into a decisive victory.
Yorkville Christian went on to defeat Gardner-South Wilmington, 68-47, in the regional title game on Feb. 28.
“We’re excited to play in another regional championship,” Yorkville Christian coach Aaron Sovern said.
“This was our 23rd win, and that’s the most we’ve ever had as a school, so we’ve got to keep moving forward. Survive and advance,” he said with a laugh.
The game was anybody’s in the first half with Yorkville Christian ahead in the first period, but only by three, 16-13.
A hat trick of 3-pointers by Long helped the Mustangs extend their advantage to 38-27 at halftime, but Putnam County head coach Harold Fay still thought he had a lot of game time to work with.
“I wasn’t even too discouraged with their 11-point lead at the half,” Fay said. “We were gonna play that zone and put people in spots where we could test shots.
“It worked for a while. It worked until halftime.”
The rubber hit the road for the Mustangs in the second half, however, going on a 19-0 run to find themselves with a 57-27 lead, ending the period ahead 67-33.
“We were a little disappointed being up only 11 at halftime, because we had some empty possessions that we could’ve extended,” Sovern said. “So we made a couple of little adjustments, the boys came out with energy and got after it defensively, so that was good to see.”
Fay said missed opportunities cost the Panthers in the early second half.
“We had four good looks down here, and they didn’t go in,” Fay said. “And they’re the type of team that you want to make take the ball out of bounds, not rebound and play up the floor. It just got away from us.”
Putnam County ends its season at 12-20.