The wintry weather of the past week made practice a difficult thing to come by for the visitors, who at times looked out of sorts when trying to keep the pace with a quick Bulldog squad.
For the bulk of the first half, the Cougars played tight with the hosts. Though Monrovia scored first, North Putnam did not let the Bulldogs stray anymore than seven points away during the opening two quarters.
Foul trouble began to mount up in the middle, where both Jacob Lucas and Jacob Muse picked up two fouls apiece. The lack of interior presence allowed Monrovia to get multiple second shot opportunities, ones which they more often than not capitalized on to build up a small lead.
As the second quarter dragged on, the Cougars were able to reel Monrovia back in and went into halftime down two at 23-21.
The hosts were not so hospitable in the third quarter. Scoring the opening seven points, Monrovia settled into a rhythm on offense while limiting North Putnam to just seven total shots in the period.
The result was a 20 point lead that put the Bulldogs comfortably ahead. Even with a quick five-point swing to start the fourth quarter, the Cougars could not dig into the Monrovia lead as both teams cancelled one another out.
By the conclusion of the game, frustrations had boiled over along the Cougar bench area. A technical foul was issued after the officials had called a flagrant foul on a Bulldog breakaway, an unfortunate end to the Cougars' seventh loss of the season.
Afterwards, a frustrated Cougar head coach Nathan Martindale didn't mince many words about the performance of his squad.
"You know, we could say that we played three good quarters but I don't think we played one good quarter to be honest. Defensively, we were soft. Guys weren't fighting on the interior," Martindale said.
"They (Monrovia) were getting offensive rebounds left and right, guys weren't jumping into help. It was a bad defensive effort, I can't sugarcoat it any other way. We've got to get better defensively," Martindale added.
"On the offensive end, we've got to knock down shots, but we've got to get guys who are screening to get open shots. I though there were a lot of guys standing around right now in the offense, not moving and when you're not moving around on the offensive end, it's going to make things tougher on shooters," Martindale continued.
It's those screens Martindale feels his team can begin making good things happen.
"We've got to do a better job with guys coming off screens being ready to shoot and really working on us. This is probably the worst game we've played this year to be honest. It's one of those things where you've just got to get better," he said.
The Cougars get little down time before traveling to Fountain Central Saturday night. In order to get ready for that game, Martindale said it was down to the will of the players themselves.
"There's nothing I can get fixed within the next 24 hours. It's got to come from these players. They've got to want it on the defensive end and they've got to play hard for 32 minutes. If they don't play hard for 32 minutes, then we'll find someone that will."
North Putnam 9 12 10 20 -- 51
Monrovia 14 9 28 20 -- 71
Shooting -- North Putnam 18-40; Monrovia 27-59
Free Throws -- North Putnam 9-13; Monrovia 13-21
Three Pointers -- North Putnam 6 (Everts 2, Hedrick 2, Porter, Wiltermood); Monrovia 4 (McCleerey 3, Gray)
North Putnam -- Hedrick 18; Wiltermood 7; Everts 6; Porter 6; Muse 6; Lucas 4; Franklin 2; Nauert 2
Monrovia -- Benefiel 20; Michel 15; Sichting 14; McCleerey 12; Bolton 4; Gray 3; Fite 2; Sampson 1
Next game -- North Putnam (4-7, 1-1 WCC) travels to Fountain Central Saturday for a JV/Varsity doubleheader starting at 6 p.m.