"It feels good," GHS head coach Bradley Key said. "We've had the luxury of having four games under our belts, so we have a good idea of who we are. We've seen that we can score some points in a hurry, then we fall off a little bit. Our big concern was could we come out and score and sustain where we were and tonight we did a much better job of that. I think there was a little bit of a lull there in the third quarter, but a much better job."
It wasn't always pretty at times as Greencastle struggled to open the second half, but its strong play was able to keep it out front. After building a 34-19 halftime lead, it took the Tiger Cubs almost six minutes into the third before they recorded their first points. Freshman Callan Taylor provided the points with 2:10 on the clock. Jessi Covert added a basket and Erynn Beck connected on two free throws to close out the third.
North Putnam was only able to convert one basket in the third quarter, but Greencastle wasn't able to blow the game open. The Cougars kept within striking distance for the rest of the contest, but Greencastle was able to stay in the lead due to some tough defense and nice offensive rebounding.
"It's good team basketball. They're buying into it. Our 2-3 zone looks really tough. They're active, they're cheering for each other and that's what we say -- play Greencastle basketball. And today they did and it was a lot of fun," Key said.
North Putnam didn't find its way to the free throw line often in the second half, but when they did, they were able to convert. North Putnam hit 6-of-7 free throws in the half and were 8-of-9 for the game. Cougars head coach Jim Brothers liked the production, but would like to see his team earn more trips to the stripe.
"We've got to get more of them. We've been averaging 30 free throws a game and we need to do a better job of shooting the free throws and combine that with getting more of them," Brothers said.
Down the stretch, Greencastle was able to convert on its free throws and keep a lively North Putnam squad in check to earn a 53-35 victory. North Putnam's turned things around after a lackluster first half and Brothers want to see that type of performance from his team from the opening tip.
"I thought we played a lot harder in the second half," Brothers said. "I thought the first half we were out of sync, we were out of the flow of the game. I credit Greencastle with that. I think they made us stay back on our heels. We pride ourselves on not being run on, but they ran, in the first half, just right down the floor and put it up. We were turned around trying to find the ball and they were already shooting layups."
As Brothers said, Greencastle ran wild on the Cougars in the first half, jumping out to a 15-6 first half lead. Earl scored eight in the opening quarter and senior Taylor Pruitt was able to score 10 in the second quarter to extend the lead.
Greencastle had three players score in double figures on the night, with Pruitt leading the way with 17. Earl followed with 13 and Wainman chipped in 10. Earl and Wainman teamed up for 23 points on the night and that's exactly what Key is looking to come from the duo.
"We talked about Hannah and Shelby needing to make sure they combine for 20 points. It will take a lot of pressure off Taylor, because Taylor is one heck of an athlete and she's going to get her points one way or another. Tonight Shelby came out and lit the world on fire and that got us going and then Hannah did a great job of taking the ball to the basket," Key said.
North Putnam struggled on the night, but never was too far out of the lead. They were just unable to find the rally to spur its offense on a run to challenge the Tiger Cubs. Morgan Robinson scored 11 points to lead North Putnam, with Maggie Pinney adding seven and LeeAnn Davis adding four.
Brothers hopes to see the effort and play he witnessed from his team in the second half Friday for the entirety of Saturday's consolation game.
"I hope it's four quarters like the last two were tonight," Brothers said. "Kensy Asbell injured her leg tonight and we've been battling that. Maggie Pinney, her first time back since last Thursday, played. I don't want to make excuses -- they have to play. I look for us to come back with a little more inspired tomorrow night.
"I think we were maybe a little too psyched up tonight. I think we were too ready to go," he added.
In addition to his three double figure scorers, Key got a big performance from his bench. The bench provided eight points, but made a big impact defensively and kept the Cougars uneasy throughout the game.
"We talk about our four guards, I say bench, but our four guards with Callan and Jessi (Covert) and (Erynn) Beck and (Alex) Basile, I've told them, they're interchangeable. And that's a great thing for us. Callan did a great job of coming out and we make her pressure people and all of them do an excellent job of doing what we want," Key said
"What I liked tonight was we knocked down a lot of easy baskets. We didn't always convert, but we got the great looks. I think that's going to come as the season goes, but it was a fun game," he added.
Greencastle will take on South Putnam for the county championship tomorrow at 8:15 p.m., while North Putnam will battle Cloverdale in the consolation game at 6:30 p.m.
At South Putnam
Putnam County Tournament
North Putnam 6 13 4 12 -- 35
Greencastle 15 19 6 13 -- 53
North Putnam -- Robinson 11, Pinney 7, Wiatt 5, Davis 4, K. Asbell 2, Lucas 4, M. Asbell 2. Totals: 13-34 FG, 8-9 FT, 35 TP
Greencastle -- Pruitt 17, Earl 13, Wainman 10, Taylor 6, Basile 3, Beck 2, Covert 2. Totals: 16-45 FG, 17-26 FT, 53 TP.
Next game -- Greencastle will face South Putnam for the tournament championship at 8:15, while North Putnam battling Cloverdale in the consolation game at 6:30 p.m. at South Putnam.