Young Cougars struggle on road

Monday, January 14, 2008

VEEDERSBURG -- North Putnam boys basketball coach Wes Peek still sees stretches where his young team struggles offensively.

Saturday when the Cougars traveled to Fountain Central, that offensive lapse came in the second quarter. Committing nine turnovers and going 2-for-9 from the floor, the Cougars were outscored 16-4 in the second quarter. North Putnam was never able to recover from the 31-18 halftime deficit, falling to the Mustangs 61-40.

The loss dropped the Cougars to 1-9 and extended their losing streak to four games. Fountain Central snapped a three-game losing streak, improving to 4-7 on the season.

"We have quarters where we struggle offensively, and tonight that was the second quarter," Peek said. "Part of that is in the first quarter, we have that initial energy that comes with stepping in the gym. And once that wears off, it's an execution issue. And we are still learning the game."

The Cougars took a 16-15 lead after Griffen Dahlstrom's rebound basket early in the second quarter. With five different players reaching the scoring column, Fountain Central proceeded to go on a 15-0 run and after Shane Payton's field goal took a 31-16 advantage with 1:12 remaining.

A rebound basket from Dahlstrom, who finished the game with a double-double effort of 14 points and 11 rebounds, finally stopped the Mustang surge.

North Putnam had the 14-point halftime deficit cut to as close as 10 points (40-30) after Kyle Alcorn's 3-pointer with 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Then, the Cougars had another of their offensive lapses. Fountain Central scored eight of the next 11 points and after Dane Alexander's basket extended its lead to 50-33. The Cougars would get no closer than 13 points the remainder of the way.

"These kids don't stop playing and they are trying to do the right thing," Peek said. "They are trying to get the ball to the right guy and we are just not doing the little things. But we can live with that."

North Putnam committed 24 turnovers, with 16 of those coming in the opening half. Fountain Central coach Phil Leonard left pleased with his team's defensive effort, which limited the Cougars to their third-lowest scoring output of the season.

"Our halfcourt defense was better and that is something we have got to get back to," Leonard said. "Sometimes we just get so focused on our pressure defense, and when you do that you get into bad habits in your halfcourt defense."

After scoring nine points in Friday's 74-45 loss to Monrovia, Alcorn joined Dahlstrom in double figures with 13 points. Alcorn was 5-for-10 from the floor, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range. Ten of Alcorn's points came in the second half.

"Kyle had a good weekend scoring the ball," Peek said. "What I liked from him was in the fourth quarter he started to take charge. We need to get that leadership from him."

Fountain Central's A.J. Stockdale followed up his 17-point effort in Friday's 52-50 loss to South Vermillion with a game-high 18 point showing Saturday. Stockdale added nine rebounds to go along with his 8-for-11 shooting performance from the floor.

"A.J. did a good job this weekend," Leonard said. "We did a better job getting A.J. the ball inside and he posted hard."

Stockdale was one of three Mustangs to reach double figures. Shane Payton had 17 points, while Bryce McTagertt had 14. Payton also had eight rebounds.

Both teams return to action Friday. North Putnam hosts Cloverdale in the second game of a girl/boy doubleheader, while Fountain Central hosts Crawfordsville.

"We have to see the big picture, we are playing a lot of juniors, sophomores and freshmen," Peek said. "We can't hang our heads. We have a long way to go, but we are going to do it together and we are going to get there."

Junior varsity

Fountain Central won the JV game 39-30. James Hedrick led North Putnam with 11 points, while Reece Heron had eight. Brody Sowers led Fountain Central with 16 points. Tanner Pierce had 11.

At Fountain Central

North Putnam 14 4 12 10 -- 40

Fountain Central 15 16 13 16 -- 61

North Putnam -- Dahlstrom 7-9 0-2 14, Hadley 1-5 1-2 3, Alcorn 5-10 0-0 13, Ban 0-1 0-0 0, Jones 2-10 0-2 5, Francies 0-5 1-2 1, Adams 2-3 0-0 4. Totals: 17-43 FG, 2-8 FT, 40 TP.

Fountain Central -- Stockdale 8-11 2-4 18, J. Davenport 2-7 2-2 6, McTagertt 5-14 3-4 14, Walters 0-1 0-0 0, Payton 6-11 5-7 17, L. Davenport 0-1 0-0 0, Alexander 3-4 0-0 6. Totals: 24-49 FG, 12-17 FT, 61 TP.

3-point FG--North Putnam 4-16 (Hadley 0-1, Alcorn 3-4, Francies 0-5, Jones 1-6), Fountain Central 1-9 (J. Davenport 0-1, McTagertt 1-4, Walters 0-1, L. Davenport 0-1, Alexander 0-1, Payton 0-1). Rebounds--North Putnam 26 (Dahlstrom 11, Alcorn 3, Adams 3), Fountain Central 26 (Stockdale 9, Payton 8, J. Davenport 6). Fouls--North Putnam 16, Fountain Central 8. Fouled out--none. Turnovers--North Putnam 24, Fountain Central 13.

Next game -- North Putnam (1-9, 0-2 WCC) returns to conference play when they host Cloverdale at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

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