ROACHDALE -- North Putnam and Cloverdale's girls' basketball squads met for the second time of the year Friday night at North Putnam High School.
Much like the first encounter, the host Cougars used a pressing defense to force turnovers and claimed their fourth victory of the season with a 50-35 win.
North started off by grabbing a 14-8 lead after one quarter of play, using a balanced offensive approach while pressuring Cloverdale into multiple turnovers, a theme of the game for the Clovers.
Crucially, the Cougars shot 71 percent from the free throw line throughout the game, knocking down 17-of-24 shots at the line when Cloverdale fouls mounted up.
By halftime, the hosts had built up a 27-16 halftime lead and, though also giving up possession too easily at times, used the interior play of LeeAnn Davis and Morgan Robinson to great effect.
The squads traded off point throughout most of the second half, but, with the Cougars already with a double digit lead, North Putnam could absorb Cloverdale's quick runs and negated them through free throws.
The Clovers closed the gap to as close as eight at one stretch during the fourth quarter but couldn't find a way to stop the Cougar offense before the game ended.
North Putnam head coach Jim Brothers said afterwards that the squad played well but lost focus at times.
"I thought we really played well. When we got about a 16-point lead, we got a little sloppy. We quit doing the things that built the lead and tried to do other things too quickly or turned the ball over," Brothers said.
"I thought we moved the ball well in transition against their press. Morgan Robinson had a lot of action on the inside with rebounding but also was more of a threat on the offensive end. She's picked up her game the last week or two."
"I thought our pressure worked well early. The kids responded well and played with a lot of energy. This is a couple of games in a row now that we've played pretty well," Brothers added.
Cloverdale head coach Matthew Langdon said that his squad wasn't up to the North Putnam press.
"It came down to pretty much one thing: we couldn't handle their pressure. It's something that I thought we were passed. We hadn't done that bad against a press since the County tournament," Langdon said.
"We made some strides and thought we had fixed some problems but we took a little step back on that tonight. The girls gave the effort, but in this late season game, it seemed like we played nervous and scared."
"One of our big issues has been knocking down the open looks. We're going to count this as a speed bump, an off-game handling pressure. We need to continue to shoot the ball. That's the key thing we're going to focus on," Langdon added.
Both squads hit the road next Tuesday with both coaches looking to keep working towards the end of the season.
"We have a road trip up to Eastern Greene Tuesday. It's a long trip and we only see them once a year. There aren't many similar opponents to them, but it's the same formula for us. It's about what we can do to give ourselves a chance to win the game," Langdon said.
"We just need to build on that and keep the momentum going. We're at Turkey Run Tuesday night, which is never an easy place for us to play. We just need to keep working on things and get better at the things we do," Brother said.
"We're always pleased to pick up a win, our fifth win of the season. Any win is a good win."
At North Putnam
Cloverdale 8 8 9 10 -- 35
North Putnam 14 13 11 12 -- 50
Cloverdale -- Shrum 18, Gruener 9, Fulkerson 2, Skiles 2, Nally 2, Stevens 2
North Putnam -- Wiatt 11, K. Asbell 11, Robinson 11, Davis 9, Pinney 4, Kientz 4
Next game -- North Putnam travels to Turkey Run and Cloverdale travels to Eastern Greene Tuesday