The North Putnam Cougars gained their most impressive win of the season Saturday night, defeating the Crawfordsville Athenians, 65-53, improving to 2-1.
The Cougars changed up their game and beat up on Crawfordsville as the trio of Brayden Dahlstrom, Griffen Dahlstrom and Jake Mullis combined to score 47 of North's 65. North didn't merely dominate the game of the offensive end, its defense caught Crawfordsville off balance and led to the Cougars acquiring the lead and never letting go.
The Dahlstrom brother's opened the second half for the Cougars with a three and a pair of buckets to run the score to 38-20. North continued the onslaught as Mullis and Brayden Dahlstrom scored the next five points for North and gave the Cougars a 22-point.
North's unrelenting defense held the Athenians scoreless until 3:28 when Blake Harris was fouled, hitting one-of-two free throws. That was followed up by North's Mullis making a steal and going coast-to-coast to give the Cougars a 46-26 lead going into the final quarter. North's defense stood strong and allowed Crawfordsville to score a mere six points in the quarter.
Instead of giving up, Crawfordsville resorted back to the basics of basketball, namely defense.
The Athenians started the fourth quarter in an aggressive fullcourt press and ran off seven unanswered points to make the score 46-33. North seemed bewildered by the press and committed four straight turnovers.
The Cougars finally got back on track as Brayden Dahlstrom scored on a jumper and Zach Hedrick score inside off of a beautiful touch pass from Dahlstrom. The Cougars closed out the game converting 7-of-15 free throws to seal the deal.
The Cougars started the game in a fullcourt press that caught Crawfordsville off guard and allowed North to grab a five to nothing lead. North Putnam kept the Athenians on the ropes as it blended a perfect balance of offensive and defensive pressure.
"We started the game in a press," coach Wes Peek commented after the game.
"That's something we hadn't done this year and didn't do at all last year, so I think they weren't prepared for it."
The Athenians shot themselves in the foot early on as they missed 3-of-4 free throws and allowed the Cougars to score inside seemingly at will. Mullis scored on a long three to give North a 16-8 lead after one.
The rest of the half was much of the same as North continued to press Crawfordsville into poor decisions in which the Cougars capitalized on. Thick interior defense made Crawfordsville look to the outside for shots which resulted in a dismal 41 percent shooting inside the arc.
The Athenians had no answer for Mullis and the Dahlstrom's as they led the Cougars to a halftime lead of 29-20 and ultimately the victory, 65-53.
Peek commended the Athenians for a great effort after the game.
"Coach (Michael) Gasaway does a great job with their kids. My hats off to them for a great effort," he said.
The Cougars JV squad lost to Crawfordsville 37-24.
North Putnam will next host Cascade this Friday at 7:30 p.m.
At North Putnam
Crawfordsville (53) -- Anderson 1 0-0 3, Harris 0 1-5 1, Boykin 2 5-6 9, Lindsey 4 0-2 8, Whittington 3 6-9 12, Swart 2 2-2 6, Ward 3 0-0 9, Nordenbrock 2 0-0 5, Wright 0 0-0 0, McKinney 0 0-0 0. Totals - FG 16 FT 14-24 TP 53
North Putnam (65) -- Mullis 7 3-4 19, Trent 1 2-3 4, Schreiber 2 0-0 4, G. Dahlstrom 3 5-10 12, B. Dahlstrom 6 4-8 16, Hedrick 3 0-0 6, Alcorn 1 0-1 2, Blaydes 1 0-0 2, Young 0 0-0 0. Totals - FG 24 FT 14-26 TP 65
3-Pt. Shooting - Crawfordsville 5 ( Anderson, Nordenbrock, Ward 3), North Putnam 3 ( Mullis 2, G. Dahlstrom) Total fouls - Crawfordsville 19, North Putnam 17
JV - Crawfordsville 37 North Putnam 24
Next Game - North Putnam (2-1) will host Cascade this Friday at 7:30 p.m.