The Lady Cougars used a stifling 2-3 zone, coupled with full court pressure to keep the Cloverdale offense struggling all night on Friday. The Lady Cougars (5-9, 1-2 WCC) forced 25 turnovers on their way to a 42-12 win over the Lady Clovers (2-17, 0-4 WCC).
"Switching defenses has really been a good thing for us. It's making our kids communicate more; we're more active on the defensive end. We play with better anticipation," Cougar coach Jim Brothers said.
The effects of the improved play are showing up at both ends of the court.
"(The defense) is fueling some of our offense -- we get some easy baskets now," Brothers said. "It's not coming down where we have to make this basket; now it's more out of the flow of the game."
Both teams opened the game struggling offensively, but the Cougars broke through when Dakota Malayer found fellow senior Carlye McGaughey on the black for a two layups. Add some transition buckets, and NP led 8-0 after the first quarter.
In the second, North's offense continued to find itself, while the Clovers stayed ice cold. It was 19-0 at the half.
Clover coach Tom Anderson was upset at his team's scoring drought, but pointed out the game wasn't necessarily out of reach at that point.
"That was disappointing, and yet we weren't really out of it -- if you're down 19-0 at half, it's really not that bad. If you'd scored anything at all, it might be 19-10," Anderson said.
For Anderson, handling the defensive pressure comes back to a problem his team has had all year -- panicking and not thinking on their feet.
"There were things that were there and we tried to tell them to look for. Just like, our first basket we made was a long diagonal pass, and we never did it again," Anderson said. "Even when we find something that works, they don't go back to it. That's really disappointing."
Unfortunately, the first bucket didn't come until 3:10 remaining in the third quarter, when Holly McCammon nailed an open jumper.
Overall, the third quarter was ugly for both teams. The half opened with seven consecutive turnovers. North Putnam outscored Cloverdale 7-2 in the frame.
In the fourth, the defensive pressure subsided, and both teams broke through. North once again outscored Cloverdale, 16-10, on the way to the 42-12 final.
After the game, Anderson was still able to find some positive moments for his squad.
"I thought early on, we were doing a pretty good job defensively because they didn't score for a long time either," he said.
The Clovers have also been struggling with illness, as McCammon missed practice all week, while Breegan Andersen and Paige Gutierrez both missed some practice time.
Andersen led the team with four points.
Besides the defense, Brothers saw some other elements he liked Friday.
"We challenged them to get to the offensive glass more. I really thought we were more aggressive, especially early when we kind of took control of the game," he said.
Overall, the better play of late springs from a team focus.
"We've been playing well together -- sharing the basketball, moving the ball around, finding the open player," Brothers said. It's not that we weren't doing that before, but now we're making that extra pass and it's getting us the wide open look."
McGaughey led the Cougars with 12 points, followed by Shelby Frye, Megan Robinson and LeeAnn Davis with 6 each.
Eleven of the 12 Lady Cougars tallied at least one point.
At North Putnam
Cloverdale 0 0 2 10 -- 12
North Putnam 8 11 7 16 -- 42
Cloverdale (2-17, 0-4 WCC) -- Andersen 1-4 2-2 4, Gutierrez 1-8 0-1 3, Skiles 1-9 0-0 3, McCammon 1-3 0-4 2, Gruener 0-2 0-0 9, Rightmyer 0-2 0-0 0, Nally 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 4-3 FG, 2-7 FT 12 points.
North Putnam (5-9, 1-2 WCC) -- McGaughey 5-9 2-3 12, Frye 3-4 0-0 6, Davis 3-6 0-0 6, Robinson 3-12 0-2 6, Pinney 1-2 2-4 4, Crosby 1-4 0-2 2, Asbell 1-3 0-0 2, Matthews 1-1 0-0 2, Stephenson 0-1 1-2 1, Malayer 0-2 1-2 1, Sam Lucas 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 18-15 FG, 6-13 FT, 42 points.
3-pt. FG--CHS 2-15 (Gutierrez 1-7, Skiles 1-8), NP 0-6 (McGaughey 0-3, Robinson 0-2, Frye 0-1). Turnovers--CHS 15, NP 16. Total fouls--CHS 8, NP 13. Fouled out--Davis (NP).
Next game: North Putnam visits Fountain Central today with the junior varsity tipping off at 1 p.m. Cloverdale hosts South Putnam at 6 p.m. Friday.