By Tim Tuttle
For the Banner Graphic
MONTEZUMA -- North Putnam slid into a hole early Saturday against Riverton Parke and never was able to climb all the way out of it, losing 62-52 in a nonconference boys basketball game on the Panthers' court.
The Cougars (0-6) fell behind 16-3 in the opening five minutes. They fought back to within seven twice.
"We played in spurts, but didn't have a consistent, sustainable level of play," first-year North Putnam coach Brady Armstrong said. "You have to be consistently great on defense, make stop after stop after stop. We weren't able to sustain our runs to get caught up. We couldn't get over the hump.
"It's disappointing. The positive is that the kids never quit, but we're all sick of losing."
North Putnam starting guard Mitchell Crum was held out of the first half for a violation of team rules. A 5-foot-9 senior with explosive quickness, Crum scored a team-high 11 points, helped the Cougars cut down turnovers with his ball-handling skills and created turnovers on defense.
"He (Crum) understands (what he did) and he's OK with it," Armstrong said. "It hurts not to have him on the floor, we all know that. He makes a big difference for us."
North Putnam had seven turnovers in the first quarter, 12 in the first half, but had only three in the second half. The Panthers (2-4) had 12 turnovers in the second half after committing seven in the first.
"We turned things around defensively in the second half," Armstrong said.
The Cougars struggled to put the ball in the basket. They converted only 28.8 percent (17-of-59) of their field goal attempts including 5-of-21 3-pointers (23.8 percent). North Putnam was 13-of-18 (72.2 percent) at the foul line.
Riverton Parke shot 43.1 percent (19-of-44) from the field, 4-of-11 on 3-pointers (36.3 percent) and was 20-of-29 (68.9 percent) at the free throw line.
Senior Cory Dean scored 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, 2-of-6 3-pointers, and junior Brock Jones also had 10 on 3-of-9 field goals, 1-of-4 3-pointers, and 2-of-2 at the free throw line for the Cougars.
Crum was 4-of-14 from the field including 2-of-5 on 3-pointers and made his only free throw.
"We're missing the intelligent part of the game offensively," Armstrong said. "We're going too fast, not seeing things. We need to slow things down to see things develop."
North Putnam also got into trouble with team fouls in the second half, putting the Panthers into the bonus in the third period and into the double bonus in the fourth quarter. The situation was exacerbated in the final four minutes as the Cougars were forced to foul playing catch-up.
Riverton Parke made 16-of-22 free throws in the second half including seven straight in the closing minutes.
"Fouls killed us," Armstrong said.
Jones' bucket, Kyle Alcorn's 3-pointer. two baskets by Dean closed North Putnam's deficit to 23-16 early in the second quarter.
Riverton Parke stopped North Putnam's momentum by out-scoring the Cougars 6-4 to close out the first half leading 29-20.
The Cougars never trailed by more than 11 the rest of the way, but the closest they got was seven when Crum had a conventional three-point play on a drive with 4:46 to play.
North Putnam's next game is Jan. 3 at Western Boone.
At Riverton Parke
North Putnam 7 13 12 20 -- 52
Riverton Parke 19 10 13 20 -- 62
NORTH PUTNAM (52)
Hunt 3-8 2-4 8, Ban 0-3 3-4 3, Jones 3-12 4-4 10, Alcorn 3-9 2-2 9, Adams 0-0 0-0 0, Dean 4-10 0-0 10, Crum 4-14 1-1 11, Spencer 0-0 1-2 1, Franklin 0-3 0-0 0, Totals 17-59 13-18 52.
RIVERTON PARKE (62)
Wilson 5-8 8-10 20, Vauters 1-8 7-10 9, McLaughlin 3-5 0-0 5, Helton 3-8 2-3 8, Vaughn 6-11 3-4 17, Secuskie 1-3 0-2 2, Yeargin 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 19-44 20-29 62.
3-point field goals -- NP 5-21 (Crum 2-5, Dean 2-6, Alcorn 1-4, Jones 0-5, Franklin 0-1), RP 4-11 (Wilson 2-3, Vaughn 2-6, Vauters 0-1, Helton 0-1).
Rebounds -- NP 35 (Ban 7, Hunt 5), RP 33 (Wilson 7).
Turnovers -- NP 15, RP 19.
Total fouls -- P 26, RP 18.
Fouled out -- NP--Hunt, Ban, Dean; RP--McLaughlin.