After suffering through a 1-20 season, a coach might be expected to be negative. However, North Putnam coach Wes Peek stayed true to form and was positive about his kids' effort after the Cougars ended their season with a 57-33 loss to Cascade Wednesday night.
"I thought J.T. Francies played really well. He played like a senior plays when he knows there's no tomorrow," Peek said. "We're saying goodbye now to a kid who has been in and out of our program. But he's a great kid and he plays his tail off every night."
The Cougars started off very slowly and trailed 12-4 after the first quarter.
"That's been normal for us. We struggle to score," Peek said. "Tonight, in a sectional game, when both teams start out a little tight, we thought we might be able to survive that a little better than they did. It just took us too long to get on the board and we played from behind."
With Cascade having just 12 points, though, the Cougar defense was not doing too bad.
"I thought early our defense was pretty good for having so many empty trips offensively. We were able to get stops and keep the game within reach early," Peek said.
Griffen Dahlstrom seemed to be the Cougars' only offense early, as he scored the first eight Cougar points of the game.
But then Francies came off the bench and hit his first two threes to help spur a 10-2 North run that took them from 19 down to just 11 down late in the first half.
Peek spoke highly of what Francies was able to do in keeping the Cougars close.
"When he gets on the floor, you know he's going to be physical and mean and nasty. He's every one of those things and that's what we love about him," the coach commented.
Although Cascade held for the last shot, they came up short, and led 27-16 at the break.
In the third, though, the Cadets (6-15) hit two quick buckets and North never really threatened again.
"You start to press a little bit and you start to feel like you're getting too far back," Peek said. "But our kids compete. I felt like they competed tonight for 32 minutes and they've done that all year."
The Cadets went on to outscore North 30-17 in the second half.
Dahlstrom led North with 16 points.
"I though Griffen Dahlstrom, Kyle Alcorn and Jerrett Ban were all over the place," Peek said. "We had some guys do things tonight that were really good and will build into our offseason. That's where we gotta focus now."
Peek and his team will now turn their attention to the offseason. In spite of the record, there is reason for hope at North Putnam, as everyone but Francies returns.
"It's really a positive thing as long as we take care of everything we have to take care of in the offseason," Peek said. "We have to make sure that we have guys in the gym that are working on skills.
"We talked tonight that our deficiencies aren't in effort or intensity or attitude--our deficiencies are in skill. We have to work on that. The beauty of that is you can fix all of those things. But you can't fix them during the season. The offseason is where a basketball player is made. The winter is when you make a team. We've gotta work on building players," he concluded.
At South Putnam
IHSAA Boys' Basketball Sectional
Cascade 12 15 14 16 -- 57
North Putnam 4 12 9 8 -- 33
Cascade (6-15) -- Guthrie 2-11 11-12 16, Fuerher 4-9 3-3 12, Heimansohn 5-5 1-2 11, Arthur 4-11 1-3 9, Spencer 3-7 0-0 6, Nease 1-1 0-0 2, Baldwin 0-0 1-2 1, Wagonner 0-1 0-0 0, Simpson 0-1 0-0 0, Dunn 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 16-47 FG, 17-22 FT, 57 points.
North Putnam (1-20) -- Dahlstrom 7-12 2-5 16, Francies 3-8 0-0 9, Hadley 1-1 0-0 2, Jones 1-6 0-0 2, Ban 1-8 0-0 2, Alcorn 1-10 0-0 2, Adams 0-3 0-0 0. Totals: 14-48 FG, 2-5 FT, 33 points.
3-pt FG--Cas 2-10 (Fuerher 1-3, Guthrie 1-4), NP 3-14 (Francies 3-6). Turnovers--Cas 17, NP 27. Total fouls--Cas 11, NP 18. Fouled out--None.
Next game -- Cascade will play Tri-West in the second South Putnam Sectional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Friday.