BAINBRIDGE -- No coach likes to deal in moral victories. At the end of the day, the game is really about what happens on the scoreboard.
But North Putnam boys' basketball coach Wes Peek might have made an exception on Friday night, in spite of the Cougars' 60-46 loss to Covington.
For a time, it looked like Dean might not make it out of the hospital, much less play basketball again. However, he completed his comeback Friday night.
Dean got a huge ovation from the Cougar faithful when Peek called his number.
"The best thing for our guys tonight was we got to have Cory Dean back on the floor," Peek said. "That was great to see him back out. He didn't hit any shots, but just having him back out there in uniform and running down the floor was really nice."
Althought Dean took no shots, his mere presence had to be a lift to his teammates.
The Cougars (1-17, 0-6 WCC) got behind the eight ball in the first quarter by hitting just two shots. The lull haunted them the rest of the game, as Peek noted.
"In that first quarter we get two buckets. That hurts you," Peek said. "Even if you're defending well and hold them to 10, you're down six going into the second quarter."
Unfortunately, the Cougars did not defend that well and allowed Covington (4-14, 1-6 WRC) to score 17 in the frame.
The second quarter was slightly better, but Covington still outscored North 15-10. The Cougars found themselves trailing by 18 at 32-14 going into the locker room.
"We came in at halftime and really challenged our guys' effort. We responded really well," Peek said. "I thought we fought and fought and fought in the second half and did everything we could to get to the rim and to get the ball inside. We did everything you're supposed to do to lengthen the game and get to the foul line and we just didn't get to the foul line. We have a lot of guys in there with bumps and bruises in there and nothing to show for it."
In the third, the Cougars outscored the Trojans 17-13 doing exactly what Peek said, attacking the basket. Kyle Alcorn, Jerrett Ban and Griffen Dahlstrom led the third quarter charge, as the Cougars closed the deficit to 14 by quarter's end.
"I'm really proud of the effort we gave in the second half. One thing we told them was, 'We love the way you fight. We just can't wait until the second half to do it.' If you put together our first half against Tri-West and our second half here, then we've got a pretty good game," Peek said.
In the fourth, the Cougars could never get over the hump and close it to single-digits. Eleven was as close as they came.
In the fourth, the game began to turn more physical. The official did a good job of countering this at first, but as the game wore on, things began to get one-sided. The last eight fouls of the game were actually called on the Cougars.
But the coach did not blame the officials at all. He said his team simply needs to find some consistency.
"It's been something that's kind of haunted us. With youth, you sometimes have to deal with some inconsistency. If we can get the inconsistency ironed out within the next two games, we can try to build some momentum going into the tournament," Peek said.
"What we have seen is longer stretches of time where we've played well," he continued.
As the tournament approaches, Peek still has a team that gives everything it has every game. Their fight has been the one thing they've had on their side every game this year.
"I'm really proud of the way our guys fought, in spite of all the adversity in the second half," Peek said.
In the junior varsity game, North Putnam fell to Covington 51-42.
The Cougars visit North Vermillion at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The JV game begins at 6 p.m.
At North Putnam
Covington 17 15 13 15 -- 60
North Putnam 4 10 17 15 -- 46
Covington (4-14, 1-6 WRC) -- Dennis 5-14 5-9 15, Willis 4-6 2-2 11, Guerra 4-8 3-5 11, Crain 4-7 0-4 9, Ferguson 3-4 1-6 7, Whitfield 1-3 2-2, Martin 1-2 0-0 3, Myers 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 22-45 FG, 13-28 FT, 60 points.
North Putnam (1-17, 0-6 WCC) -- Alcorn 5-10 2-4 13, Ban 4-6 4-5 12, Dahlstrom 5-10 1-6 11, Adams 2-7 0-1 4, Lasiter 1-1 0-0 2, Jones 1-5 0-0 2, Francies 1-5 0-0 2, Hadley 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 19-45 FG, 7-16 FT, 46 points.
Next game -- North Putnam travels to North Vermillion at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.