The Cougars clipped the visiting North Vermillion Falcons wings, 72-65 bumping their record to 4-16 and giving them a win under their belts heading into the sectional next week.
In the first half, the Cougars relied on Mitchell Crum's hot hand to carry them through. Crum racked up 18 points in the first half, 15 of which came from the three-point line. The Cougars finished the half with a 43-37 lead, but would soon find out that they would need more than just Crum to pull out a win.
The Falcons came out in the second half and went into what NPHS Coach Brady Armstrong calls a box one defense and eliminated Crum from the Cougars offense.
"We need to learn how to handle that defense better," Armstrong said. "We need to have Crum become a screener in that situation so he can pop back out for the shot.
"You have to give them credit, they guarded us better and kept the pressure on," Armstrong said.
With Crum out of the equation, North Vermillion chipped away at the Cougars lead and in the beginning of the fourth tied the game at 43-all. The two teams knotted up the score two more times, once at 50 then again at 53.
Then the game got interesting.
With Crum out of the picture, North Putnam had to find some other people to score and it did in James Hedrick.
Hedrick had 12 points in the second half, with nine of them coming in the last half of the fourth quarter.
"Thank goodness for James Hedrick," Armstrong said. "He's only a sophomore and he hit a big three for us in the corner.
"He missed the free throw, but he got the three," Armstrong added.
With the Cougars starting to find some kind of rhythm again, North Vermillion lost their cool and started to foul more, allowing the Cougars to do what they do best -- shoot free throws.
"We make the kids shoot foul shots under pressure, with the clock on them or making them run or do pushups if they miss and it's just nice to see that pay off," Armstrong said.
The Cougars went 10-of-14 from the charity stripe in the second half, all of which came in the fourth quarter and shot 19-24 for the game.
"Free throws saved us tonight," Armstrong said. "It's nice to see the hard work start to pay off."
North Putnam will be back in action on March 4 when they take on Speedway in the second round of the South Putnam Sectional at 7:30 p.m.
At North Putnam
N. Vermillion 20 17 12 16 -- 65
N. Putnam 25 18 7 22 -- 72
N. Putnam -- Crum 5 3-3 18, Alcorn 0 1-2 1, Ban 2 0-0 4, Hunt 1 6-6 8, Dean 1 2-2 4, Adams 4 2-2 10, Dahlstrom 3 1-1 7, Jones 1 1-23, Hedrick 5 3-6 17. Totals -- FG 22-58, FT 19-24, TP 72.
N. Vermilllion -- Rankin 7 0-2 18, Jumps 3 4-10-10, Allen 3 2-2 8, Gonzalez 0 0-0 0, Buchaas 9 2-2 20, Clark 4 1-1 9. Totals -- FG 26-53, FT 8-16, TP 65.