Something had to give. When North Putnam squared off against South Putnam in Friday's consolation tilt of the Putnam County Classic, a win was going to emerge.
Supplementing North Putnam's effort was the presence on the bench of Cory Dean, who returned to the Cougar family for the first time since a life-threatening accident sidelined him earlier this month.
North Head Coach Wes Peek acknowledged that his squad was inspired by Dean: "We knew he was coming tonight, so we got here early so we could spend some time with him. He was a big lift for us."
The first quarter was a low-scoring affair, with South emerging 7-6, as both clubs had difficulty finding the basket. The Eagles and North Putnam went a combined 4-19 from the field in the opening eight minutes.
South Putnam opened the second quarter on a 10-3 run to lead 17-9 with 3:10 to go before halftime. Dahlstrom, however, scored eight of the Cougars' final eleven points in an 11-5 run of their own, to narrow the Eagles' margin to two, 22-20, at the break.
The Cougars began to assert themselves after intermission, thanks to Dahlstrom's aggressive post play. That, coupled with North's guards ability to attack via dribble penetration, enabled them to open up a six-point lead, 36-30, going into the final stanza.
Not to be denied, the Eagles began the fourth quarter on a 10-4 run, to knot the game at 40 with 3:41 remaining. South, however, would fail to score for the remainder of the game, and clutch free-throw shooting from the Cougars' Kyle Alcorn and Mitch Hadley sealed the deal for North, which now stands at 1-5 on the 2007-08 campaign.
The Eagles, who were led by Noah Boswell and Nathan Welty, who both scored 14, fall to 0-6.
North Putnam 6 14 16 10 46
South Putnam 7 15 8 10 40
Next game -- South Putnam (0-6, 0-2 WCC) returns to action when it hosts North Vermillion in game two of the Eagle Holiday Classic at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 29. North Putnam (1-5, 0-1 WCC) hosts Turkey Run at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4.