BAINBRIDGE -- One thing a team must do to win a game is to take care of the ball. Unfortunately for the North Putnam Cougars, turnovers plagued them throughout their season opener against Crawfordsville. The Athenians defeated the Cougars 50-20.
A visibly loose Cougar squad took the court and after capturing the tip-off, jumped out to a quick 6-4 lead. A Carlye McGaughey three-pointer and free throws from Shawna Johnston and Elsiana Crosby accounted for North's scoring. As the opening quarter ended, the teams were knotted at six.
In the second quarter, the combination of the multiple Cougar turnovers and Crawfordsville's Mandi Johnson establishing herself in the lane, put North behind the eight-ball. Johnson scored eight points in the quarter, with teammates Lexi Stevens, Holly Thompson, Paige Thompson and Alex Gasaway adding goals.
North Putnam managed only two field goals in the quarter. Those goals were provided by junior Taylor Alles and Johnston. At the half, the Cougars trailed 26-10. North Putnam wouldn't fare any better in the second half.
North Putnam brought a newfound intensity to the court at the beginning of the second half and forced the Athenians into two quick turnovers, but the Cougars were unable to capitalize. Cougar turnovers rapidly turned into Crawfordsville points.
Paige Thompson paced the Athenians, scoring seven points, with Stevens and Hannah Fink knocking down bombs beyond the arc. North Putnam scored one bucket in the quarter and found themselves behind 45-12.
The Cougars scored eight points in the final quarter and saw the number of turnovers diminish as the game drew to its close. Johnston led the Cougars with nine points and Carlye McGaughey added five.
North Putnam did a good job of handling the Crawfordsville press early but as the game wore on, the Cougars found themselves a step behind the Athenians -- a fact Smith was quick to note.
"They wore us down. I think our legs got a little tired on us. They (Crawfordsville) did a nice job of moving the basketball. I thought we played really well early and got out of some of the things we were trying to do," Smith commented.
As the Cougars ran their offense throughout the night, it was clear the goal was to get the ball into the paint. The Athenians did a good job of clogging the lane and preventing the Cougars from establishing themselves down low.
"We struggled to get it there. That's something we're going to be working on. That's a big part of our offense," Smith concluded.
The junior varsity lost to the Athenians 51-17.
The Cougars (0-1) will next host Danville at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
At North Putnam
Crawfordsville 6 20 19 5 -- 50
North Putnam 6 4 2 8 -- 20
Crawfordsville -- Johnson 14, Stevens 10, P. Thompson 9, Gasaway 6, Fink 5, Conklin 4, H. Thompson 2. Totals: FG 21-55 FT 6-10 TP 50,
North Putnam -- Johnston 9, McGaughey 5, Kumaran 4, Alles 2. Totals: FG 6-26 FT 6-10 TP 20.
3pt. FG -- CHS 3 (Stevens 2, Fink), NPHS 2-14 (McGaughey, Kumaran).
Next game -- The Cougars (0-1) will next host Danville at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.