CLAYTON -- In the second game of the Class 2A Cascade Sectional, it was a tale to two halves for the North Putnam Cougars. A strong second half was too little too late for North as they fell to Speedway 63-42.
"I'm just proud of them," Cougar head coach Kevin Smith said.
After struggling in the first half, the Cougars came out in the third and turned up the pressure. They implemented a full-court press that caused the Sparkplugs to falter. Intense frontcourt pressure from Elsiana Crosby and Carlye McGaughey caused Speedway to turn the ball over on the Cougars side of the court, resulting in North Putnam outscoring the Sparkplugs 18-11 in the third.
After trailing 21 at the half, North Putnam cut the lead to nine with 4:12 when Shilah Kumaran ripped the net from the three-point line.
"I told them that I thought if we could cut it to single digits we could make them nervous and I think we did that but it's just hard to sustain a run that long," Smith commented. "They were physical with us and we let them. The second half we decided to be physical with them as well. We hit some shots, scrapped, dove, tipped balls and came up with some deflections and cut it to nine."
But Speedway proved too much for the Cougars to overcome and built its lead up with timely baskets from Whitley Emerson and Shaley Anglea.
Shawna Johnston scored 12 of her game-high 19 points in the second half, including six-of-six from the charity stripe. McGaughey connected on two three-points en route to eight points in the half.
The Cougars limped through the first quarter, not scoring until 46 seconds remaining when Dakota Malayer connected from downtown. North went 1-for-8 from the field to open the contest.
The Cougars started to show they could hit some buckets in the second quarter but their inability to slow Speedway trumped their shooting. Johnston recorded all of the Cougars seven points in the second.
North Putnam outrebounded the Sparkplugs 24-24, which included 11 offensive rebounds.
"I'm really proud of my girls for the way they came out," Smith said. "It could have been really easy to tank it a halftime and say the season's over but they battled. I'm really proud of them and I love this team. I'm really looking forward to coaching this group next year."
The Cougars end the season at 7-14.
IHSAA Class 2A Sectional
Speedway 16 16 11 20 -- 63
North Putnam 4 7 18 13 -- 42
Speedway -- Emerson 18, Miller 14, Tierney 12, Anglea 11, Walton 4, Jones 2, Hubbard 2. Totals: 23-40 FG 14-22 FT 64 TP.
North Putnam -- Johnston 19, McGaughey 8, Alles 4, Kumaran 3, Malayer 3, L. Crosby 2, Frye 2, Robinson 1. Totals: 14-45 FG 10-14 FT 42 TP.
Rebounds -- Speedway 24, North Putnam 27.
Total fouls -- Speedway 9, North Putnam 19.
Turnovers -- Speedway 14, North Putnam 23.