ROACHDALE--North Putnam's boys overcame a sluggish first quarter to defeat Riverton Parke, 44-37, Saturday night in a nonconference basketball game on the Cougars' court.
North Putnam (3-4) was coming off a West Central Conference victory on the road, 71-66 over Cascade, on Friday and avoiding a letdown presented a challenge to Cougars' coach Nathan Martindale.
"It gets hard to get kids motivated," Martindale said. "I'd heard all day (Saturday) that (Cascade win) was one of the biggest games we've won in the regular season in a long time and the kids knew that. As a coaching staff, we'll get them prepared as best we can, but we all know the chances of a setback or a little bit of a lull from us is probably something that could happen and for us to still come away with a win is a nice Christmas present for us."
Riverton Parke (0-5) had a 12-4 lead early in the second quarter.
Travis Franklin sparked a 10-0 run that put North Putnam ahead, 14-12. The game was tied three times after that, but the Cougars never trailed again.
Franklin, a 5-foot-10 junior guard, scored the opening six points of the run on a free throw, a 3-pointer and a 2-point field goal and scored 10 in the quarter.
"He (Franklin) was big for us in our actual awakening there in the second quarter," Martindale said. "I think we were still at Cascade in that first quarter. We just weren't ready to play and I'll take the blame for that. The bottom line is we battled back and we were ready in the second half. I'll give Riverton Parke credit. They had just a great scheme and a great couple of runs."
North Putnam took a 29-22 lead with a 9-2 run in the third quarter, but the Panthers cut their deficit to 31-30 and were down only 34-32 with two minutes remaining.
James Hedrick's basket on a 7-foot jumper off the baseline put the Cougars on top 36-32 and Brock Jones scored seven points in the final 1:32 to clinch the victory.
Jones, a 6-foot senior forward, started by making two free throws. After Riverton Parke's Jeremy Helton made a 2-point field goal, Jones' two free throws expanded North Putnam's advantage to 40-34 with 53.5 seconds remaining.
Franklin's steal led to a lay-up by Jones to put the game out of reach, 42-34, and Jones added a free throw for North Putnam's biggest lead, 43-34, with 21 seconds left.
North Putnam made 7-of-10 free throws in the fourth quarter, 6-of-8 by Jones and 1-of-2 by Franklin. The Cougars were 14-of-21 (66.6 percent) for the game.
"Free throws are really what bailed us out," Martindale said. "That's a fairly good percentage. Obviously, we're looking for a little bit better, but that's what saved us tonight."
North Putnam shot only 34.1 percent, 14-of-41, from the field including 2-of-6 3-pointers. Riverton Parke was only slightly better at 37.5 percent, 15-of-40 including 3-of-10 3-pointers. The Panthers were 4-of-8 from the foul line.
"We didn't have the energy or the drive that we did the night before, but we battled through and that's something I love about these kids, is they always constantly battle," Martindale said. "Even when we're not on, we had a lot of missed shots and a lot of turnovers, but they just kept battling. And we had some key guys come in. Cody Summerlot came in and gave us some great minutes, and also Payne Stewart. Those are guys who haven't gotten as much minutes earlier on in the year, but they came on and became a huge energy booster for us and brought us some great minutes off the bench."
North Putnam had 12 turnovers, Riverton Parke 19.
"We had 10 turnovers in the first half," Martindale said. "We had a lot of one-on-one plays and it just wasn't going to cut it for us. We need ball movement and we weren't getting that in the first half. As the second half moved along, we started getting a lot more movement and you see that in the turnovers are down. When you move the basketball, that's what's really going to be key."
North Putnam starting point guard Tim Wiltermood landed hard on his elbow with 5:46 left in the fourth quarter and didn't return.
"He injured his elbow," Martindale said. "They took him to the hospital and we're not sure how bad it is. It looked bad. I know he was in a great deal of pain. We're hoping and praying for the best for him."
The Cougars don't play again until Jan. 2, when they host Western Boone.
"It's nice to have a little momentum on our side going into break," Martindale said. "Now, we can take these next couple of weeks and work on some things we need to work on and then get ready for Western Boone."
Riverton Parke 10 6 9 12 - -37
North Putnam 4 14 13 13 - -44
RIVERTON PARKE 37
Engle 2-6 0-0 6, Vauters 1-5 0-1 2, Jo. Helton 2-2 0-1 4, Je. Helton 4-13 2-2 10, Lientz 3-8 2-4 8, Hardesty 2-3 0-0 5, Stites 1-2 0-0 2, Yando 0-0 0-0 0, Yeargin 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 15-40 4-8 37.
NORTH PUTNAM 44
Adams 2-5 1-3 5, Hedrick 3-11 0-0 7, Lucas 1-2 1-2 3, Wiltermood 2-8 2-2 6, Franklin 4-8 2-4 11, Porter 0-2 0-0 0, Jones 1-3 6-8 8, Stewart 0-1 0-0 0, Summerlot 1-1 2-2 4, Logan 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 14-41 14-21 44.
3-point field goals: RP 3-10 (Engle 2-4, Hardesty 1-2, Vauters 0-1, Lientz 0-1, Je. Helton 0-2), NP 2-6 (Franklin 1-2, Hedrick 1-4). Rebounds: RP 25 (Vauters 4, Je. Helton 4), NP 24 (Hedrick 6, Adams 4). Turnovers: RP 19, NP 12. Total fouls: RP 18, NP 14. Fouled out: None.