ROACHDALE -- In a nutshell, the opening 30 seconds of the fourth quarter of Friday's girls' basketball game at North Putnam summed up everything.
Monrovia opened the quarter with possession, missed a shot, and the rebound was claimed by the Cougars. Shelby Frye went to handle the ball, but lost it out of bounds. Twenty seconds later, Monrovia's Morgan Knieper drove inside, threw up a half hook, half lay-up that went in. It was that kind of night for the Cougars, as they fell to the Bulldogs 57-38.
The contest started quickly for the Bulldogs, as they jumped out to a 12-5 lead with 2:52 left in the first quarter. Monrovia came out shooting well, knocking down several early jumpers. Coming out of a time-out, North was able to cut the lead to 12-9 with a jumper from Frye and a steal and lay-up from Carlye McGaughey. Monrovia hit two free throws to close the scoring at 14-9 entering the second period.
After battling back and forth through the first half of the second quarter, Kneiper's three-pointer started a 9-2 charge for Monrovia to extend the lead to 27-18 at the half.
In the third, Monrovia began to exert itself on the Cougars.
Within the opening two minutes, the Bulldogs extended the lead to 34-19 as North's shooting touch deserted it and Monrovia got inside the lane with more and more ease. Trips to the free throw line aided the cause for the Bulldogs. When they weren't hitting many lay-ups, they were going to the line, often for two shots.
By the end of three, Monrovia had a commanding 44-28 lead.
The fourth quarter started with Kniper's acrobatic lay up and more of the same Bulldog drives as the visitors rode out the contest en route to the 57-38 win.
After the game, Cougars coach Jim Brothers admitted the shooting just isn't there right now.
"Monrovia started the game off quicker. They were ready from the beginning and we weren't. We weren't able to block out well. Our shooting touch is gone right now, and it's affecting our focus and our concentration during the game," Brothers said.
"At the beginning of the season we were playing hard both ways, but that wasn't there tonight," he added. It's not something we have an explanation for. I'm not sure if we're not comfortable with what our positions are, but we need to get after it."
After playing Western Boone earlier in the week, coach Brothers thought they would be ready for the Friday contest.
"When we played Western Boone, we had a pretty good first half and then let it get away from us in the second half. The next day, we had probably our best practice of the year. Yesterday, we had a really good shooting practice. We need to carry that over into the game. It wasn't here tonight," Brothers said.
"We're struggling, but it's more about our play than the opposition. We need to get that intensity from practice into the games."
Hunter led all scorers with 16 points, with Knieper adding 12. The Cougars were paced by Dakota Malayer with eight points. North Putnam is back in action on Tuesday, hosting Southmont at 6 p.m.