The North Putnam Cougars finished their regular season Friday night hosting the Danville Warriors with a 75-58 loss. The Cougars are now 8-12 going into sectional play next week.
Danville opened up the game with a 6-0 run amid a flurry of turnovers, fast breaks and offensive hustle. Still, at the end of the first period the Cougars were within three points at 10-13.
The second quarter presented a much more aggressive North Putnam team on both sides of the ball. However, each time they made a run at the visiting Warriors it was answered. And, as the half drew to a close Danville held fast to their lead by a 37-31 mark.
"When you play a team that good you have to play it clean," said North Putnam head coach Wess Peek. "There just isn't a lot of room for mistakes."
As the second half was under way North Putnam came out with newfound purpose and aggression. The Cougars started with a 7-2 run that brought them within a point of Danville. And, though North Putnam did a better job of stopping the hi-low and slowed the Warrior offense down, the home team could not manage a single lead change.
"We played a great team tonight," said Danville head coach Brian Barber. "They're well coached and a good ball team. They'll be tough in the sectional."
Though the Cougars fought hard down the stretch and got key threes from Jake Mullis and Brayden Dahlstrom in the fourth, the game would eventually go to the visitors.
"I'm proud of the way we played tonight," said Peek. "You want to be playing your best basketball as a team at this time of year and I think we are. With the exception of free throw shooting tonight I think we're playing good basketball."
The Cougars were 14-26 from the line for the night.
Seniors Lee Fordice and Riley McGaughey led the Cougars in scoring with 18 points each. McGaughey led on the boards with five.
Senior Todd Hanni led the Warriors with 18 points and six rebounds, and junior Nick Runnlyon who added 16 points and four boards.
The JV game went to Danville as well by a final margin of 42-39.
North Putnam goes to South Putnam High School Tuesday night at 7pm for their first sectional match-up.
"We've got some things to work on but we're excited about the tournament and our draw for the first round," said Peeks. "It promises to be a classic Putnam County basketball game and we're looking forward to it."