BAINBRIDGE -- Although the Cloverdale girls' basketball team appeared to be in control throughout the game, it still came down to the final possession. With 11 seconds to go, North Putnam had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, they turned the ball over, giving the Clovers the opportunity to run out the clock and preserve a 37-35 WCC victory.
With the win, the Clovers (13-4, 3-1 WCC) knocked to Cougars (5-11, 2-1) out of possession of the conference lead. Greencastle and Speedway also have a single WCC loss.
Cougar coach Kevin Smith was pleased to have a chance against a team like Cloverdale. The coach was very complementary of the Clovers' 13 wins and was pleased to keep pace.
For his part, Clover coach Bruce Cook was glad to escape with a win in a game he knew was played at his opponents' pace.
"I thought they had us scouted really well and I thought they took away some of our cuts. I thought they played a nice game," Cook said. "That's a team that is much improved and is going to improve with no seniors."
The Clovers played a box-in-one on Cougar shooter Carlye McGaughey in spite of the pace advantage Cook thought that might give North Putnam.
"We thought a 30-to-40 point game was to their advantage. We've been scoring about 54 points per game, and when we went box-in-one, we thought that might give them some advantage, but McGaughey is a player -- she scares us. We thought, 'We'll go ahead an box her,'" he said. "Really, in the second half when we scored 13 points, we really pressed there and came back into a 3-2, which is what we usually do."
At the outset, it looked like it would be a much different game, with both teams hitting lots of shots early. The Cougars cooled off first, and Cloverdale had a 16-9 advantage after the first quarter.
The game slowed way down in the second, though, with the Clovers outscoring North 8-7 in the frame.
"We've come out shooting the ball pretty well lately. (Kristin) McCammon and (Kayla) Shepherd are capable of doing that, and then teams start to find them," Cook said.
The Clovers held a 24-16 advantage at the half.
In the third, it was more of the same, with North outscoring the Clovers a paltry 6-5. The Clovers still led 29-22.
In the final period, it really got interesting though.
Elsiana Crosby made three outside shots for North and Taylor Alles began scoring inside.
With 2:47 remaining, Alles completed a three-point play to tie the score at 33.
McCammon immediately answered with a three-pointer, though.
Down the stretch, the Clovers made the foul shot they really needed, but the Cougars still had an opportunity at the very end.
Cook credited his two seniors with holding on for the victory.
"It's just the will that (Ashley) Koosman and (Chelsie) Haltom share not to lose. I think that's the difference in our team," Cook said. "They are the kind of kids who make some mistakes but they refuse to lose."
McCammon led all scorers with 13 points. Alles led the Cougars with 11.
Two big keys for the Cougars were their ability to take care of the ball and their rebounding. With just 11 turnovers, North more than cut its season average (24) in half. They also outrebounded the Clovers 28-25.
"I was proud of our girls. There were several opportunities where Cloverdale had the chance to extend their lead and put the game out of reach, but our girls fought hard to stay in there," Smith concluded.
North Putnam travels to Turkey Run at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Clovers host South Putnam at 6 p.m. Friday.
At North Putnam
Cloverdale 16 8 5 8 -- 37
North Putnam 9 7 6 13 -- 35
Cloverdale (13-4, 3-1 WCC) -- McCammon 5-11 0-1 13, Koosman 3-10 2-6 8, Shepherd 2-9 0-0 6, Haltom 1-3 3-6 5, Cheatham 1-4 2-2 4, Franklin 0-1 1-2. Totals: 12-38 FG, 8-17 FT, 37 points.
North Putnam (5-11, 2-1 WCC) -- Alles 5-8 1-4 11, E. Crosby 4-13 0-0 8, Johnston 3-10 0-0 6, L. Crosby 2-4 0-0 5, Malayer 1-7 0-0 3, McGaughey 1-6 0-0 2, Kumaran 0-5 0-0 0. Totals: 14-53 FG, 1-4 FT, 35 points.
3-pt. FG--Cl 5-15 (McCammon 3-8, Shepherd 2-6), NP 2-13 (Malayer 1-2, L. Crosby 1-2). Rebounds--Cl 25, NP 28. Turnovers--Cl 10, NP 10. Total fouls--Cl 9, NP 13. Fouled out--None.
Next game -- North Putnam visits Turkey Run at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Cloverdale hosts South Putnam at 6 p.m. Friday.