When shots are falling, life is good. It was that simple for Cloverdale (2-1) on Friday night as they defeated North Putnam (0-2) 73-40 in the second game of the Putnam County Classic.
After the Cougars took a 2-0 lead on Zack Hedrick bucket, the Clovers scored the next 12 points, and never really looked back, controlling the tempo until late in the fourth quarter.
"When the ball falls through the net it hides multitudes of sins," Clover coach Pat Rady said. "We were shooting real well tonight.
"I thought we got the ball out on the break. We've been trying to stress that -- get the ball out quickly, run the floor and fill the lanes," he continued. "I thought we had great ball movement, and the kids who had the ball made good decisions and got the ball to a person who had a good shot."
The fast break was a big part of the difference in the first half, as the Clovers forced the Cougars into 12 first half turnovers and scored many of their points on the break.
On the other end of the court was a Cougar team still trying to find itself. With the late run of the North football team, the squad has not had as much time together as some others. The Cougars also had upperclassmen J.T. Francies and Griffen Dahlstrom out of uniform with injuries.
"We've got to get over our inexperience and we've got to get over our youth," NP coach Wes Peek said. "We've got to be aggressive. Tonight they were more aggressive than we were early, and with a young team if you don't get off early, sometimes things don't go your way."
While Peek did not use the short practice time or injuries as excuses, his opponent could see signs of potential in the squad.
"They've only had a few days of practice because of football. They have some injuries," Rady said. "When they get over that, Wes is going to have a fine ball club at North Putnam."
In spite of the one-sided score, Peek also saw some things he liked, particularly late.
"We had five guys on the floor there at the end who played pretty hard," Peek said. "In the fourth quarter is when guys usually start to wear down a little bit. We have to play with the energy and tenacity that we played with in the last four or five minutes. We've got to start that way.
"I think Brock Jones gave us good energy off the bench. I thought Mitch Hadley and Kyle Alcorn did a pretty decent job of playing hard," he continued. "We've just got to get everybody playing at the same level."
One advantage Rady wished to mention was a special pre-game speech for his team. Ray Craft, a member of the 1954 Milan state championship team (and Rady's former principal at Shelbyville) spoke to the Clovers before the game.
Rady said the talk focused on the importance of playing as a team and how the Milan team defeated more talented squads by playing together.
"I though we really played as a team tonight, and I give Ray part of the credit," Rady said. "I really appreciate him coming in and I appreciate the kids listening to him. I think it meant a lot to them."
The Clovers will now face Greencastle in tonight's championship game. Rady knows the Tiger Cubs will be a challenge, and could not say enough good things about his next opponent.
"They're a fine, fine ball club," Rady said. "[Brennan] Burks is a one-man wrecking crew. He's just a tremendous player. They have other players who play their roles. They play good defense; they hit the boards strong. They have some shooters.
"We just have to be conscious of playing 32 minutes of basketball. We can't have any letdowns," he continued. "Greencastle takes advantage of you when you have any kind of lull. We know the game is played in runs. Hopefully we can keep their runs very short and hope we can make some runs."
For the Cougars, it's on to the consolation game against South Putnam. For Peek, the focus is not so much on the Eagles, but on improvement for his own Cougars.
"The challenge for us tomorrow night is to start better and to be the aggressor. I think if we do that, we'll be in much better shape. If we don't, we'll have another game like we did tonight," he said.
"We've got freshman guys, JV guys and varsity guys all mixed together," he said. "We're still in the process of trying to mesh, and sometimes for a young team that takes longer than others."
North Putnam faces South Putnam in the consolation game at 6:30 p.m. Cloverdale takes on Greencastle in the championship at 8 p.m.
Putnam County Classic Game 2
North Putnam 9 6 7 18 -- 40
Cloverdale 21 29 22 11 -- 73
North Putnam -- Z. Hedrick 4-10 0-0 8, Dean 3-8 0-0 8, Ban 3-9 1-2 7, Adams 2-5 2-4 6, Jones 2-8 2-2 6, Alcorn 1-6 0-0 3, Heron 1-1, 0-0 2, Hadley 0-1 0-0 0. Team totals: 16-48 FG, 5-8 FT, 40 Total points.
Cloverdale -- Blair 14-21 4-4 33, Young 4-5 0-0 10, Moon 4-8 0-0 9, R. Dean 4-6 0-0 8, Kukman 1-2 2-3 4, Randall 2-6 0-1 4, Glassburn 1-3 0-0 3, K. Dean 0-1 2-2 2. Team totals: 29-52 FG, 8-10 FT, 73 Total points.
Next game -- North Putnam takes on South Putnam in the consolation game of the Putnam County Classic tonight at 6:30 p.m. Cloverdale faces Greencastle at 8 p.m. in the championship game.