BAINBRIDGE -- Early on, it looked like it might be North Putnam's night.
Two more layups, one by Dahlstrom and another by Jerrett Ban, and the Cougars led 6-2 on Riverton Parke.
However, an 8-6 lead late in the first would be the last the Cougars enjoyed on the evening. North's 15 turnovers came at all the wrong times in the game and the Panthers took full advantage, defeating North 43-29.
"We turned the ball over in some areas and some stretches of the game where you can't turn the ball over. At the end of the quarter when you're trying to get the last shot -- you can't turn the ball over then. At the end of a half when you're trying to take the last shot -- you can't turn the ball over then," North coach Wes Peek said.
The turnovers weren't the only thing that killed the Cougars (0-5, 0-1 WCC), though, as Peek saw a hard-working Riverton Parke (3-3, 1-1 WRC) team do all the little things to beat his own squad.
"There are all kinds of places in games where little things turn out to make a big difference. Tonight it wasn't any one thing. We got out-worked by a team that plays really, really hard, and we never matched that," he said.
Just five points in the second quarter didn't help, either, as the Cougars found themselves trailing 20-13.
In the third, Riverton quickly stretched the lead to double figures and coasted home to the win from there. While the Cougars showed flashes of what they needed, they could never get the lead back under 10.
"We see glimpses of what we need to be like, but we haven't seen consistent stretches yet," Peek said. "With a young team, an inexperienced team, it takes longer to get there.
"Our key right now to getting better is having a consistent effort every night, having a consistent purpose every night and doing what we do," he added. "We're a team that needs to rely on defending, rebounding and taking care of the basketball. We haven't gotten there yet."
One thing the Cougars did well in the second half was attack the offensive glass. In particular, Dahlstrom did well underneath, getting all six of his second-half points on second-chance opportunities.
"We had a lot better effort on the glass in the second half," Peek said. "Griffen is just a big, strong kid that's going to go get rebounds. We have other kids that are capable of that."
"South Putnam is a team that was a lot like us last year -- really young and inexperienced -- and they've all got a year under their belt. They're big. They're physical. They rebound well," Peek said.
"It's still a county game even though it's a couple weeks removed. We have to play like it's the opening night of the County -- come out and really play hard and play smart right off the bat," he continued.
As for the season, Peek tries to keep his players' focused on improving and preparing for the postseason.
"We've told our kids a hundred times, 'These 20 games leading up to March are tune-up games. They're exhibition games for what really matters.' What really matters is how you play in March," the coach said.
The Cougars face South Putnam at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the consolation game of the Putnam County Classic at Greencastle.
At North Putnam
Riverton Parke 8 12 15 8 -- 43
North Putnam 8 5 8 8 -- 29
Riverton Parke -- Wilson 6-13 3-5 16, Mitchell 3-12 2-4 8, Vaughn 2-4 0-0 5, Lehman 1-2 2-2 4, Frink 1-5 2-2 4, McLaughlin 1-5 2-4 4, Helton 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 14-44 FG, 11-17 FT, 43 points.
North Putnam -- Dahlstrom 5-8 0-1 10, Ban 3-6 0-2 6, Hadley 0-3 4-4 4, Adams 2-2 0-0 4, Heron 1-4 0-0 3, Hedrick 1-9 0-0 2, Alcorn 0-2 0-0 0, Francies 0-1 0-1 0, Jones 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 12-37 FG, 4-8 FT, 29 points.
Next game -- The Cougars (0-5, 0-1 WCC) face South Putnam in the rescheduled consolation game of the Putnam County Classic at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Greencastle.