ROACHDALE -- North Putnam High School's homecoming Friday night was a chance for the Cougars' girls' basketball squad to grab some momentum heading into sectional play.
South Putnam was also looking to do so and, after a tight first half of play, got the early scores needed to deflate the home side and take a 47-35 win in the season finale for both squads.
The hosts were equal to the task early on as the Cougars came out firing. Sitting in a zone defense, they dared the visitors to hit shots, which South Putnam wasn't knocking down early.
A 12-11 advantage after one quarter of play gave way to a five point lead for the Cougars in several stretches of the second period.
However, a late 11-4 run from the Eagles allowed the visitors to steal in and take a 25-23 halftime lead.
South Putnam then opened up the third period with a three-pointer by Jenny Thompson and a second from Emily Dabkowski that took the lead from two points to eight.
From there, the visitors put a defensive clamp on North Putnam, holding the Cougars to six points in both the third and fourth periods.
While not able to stretch the lead far in the third, the Eagles got long jumpers that wouldn't fall in the first half to drop in the second half.
North Putnam couldn't find a way to break down the defense of the visitors as the Eagles claimed their 13th win of the season.
South Putnam head coach Lindsey Blackman said afterwards that North Putnam was ready for the challenger her squad had for them.
"We expected physical play, and with all the factors like homecoming and senior night, we knew they would come out and be the aggressor," Blackman said.
"It was our goal to be the aggressor to begin with but they took that role. The outside shots weren't falling. We got in a pattern of throwing up three's. We had to settle down on defense and our offense began from there," Blackman added.
"Our goal in the second half was to score first. Once we did, we settled down and got confidence from the defensive end. Once we were settled on the defensive end, our offense flowed from there."
North Putnam head coach Jim Brothers said that he was impressed with the energy of his squad.
"I was really proud of my kids. They played with a lot of emotion and probably the most intensity we've had the entire year. If we bring that again Wednesday night, we'll be all right against Crawfordsville," Brothers said.
"I thought we played well defensively. Three pointers at the end of the first half rocked us a little bit and we regrouped right before halftime."
"I said at halftime if we could block out and rebound with them and keep knocking down shots, we would be alright. I think we would have, but Thompson hit a three, then Dabkowski hit a three and those were backbreakers," Brothers added.
"We were in too big of a hurry in the first half and we failed to capitalize on some turnovers. We had some key turnovers in the second half where we couldn't defend them."
With the season complete, attention turns towards sectional play. For the Cougars, a rematch with Crawfordsville awaits at Western Boone.
Brothers said that the intensity of the squad had to be the same for North Putnam to be in the game.
"I think it started tonight. I think South is better than Crawfordsville is. They've lost a couple of starters since we played them. The two girls who scored the most against in the first game are still there," Brothers said.
"We've got to match the intensity we had tonight. If we come out with the same focus and desire we had tonight, I like our chances."
South Putnam will travel to Cascade for their opener against Cloverdale. Blackmans said that, even having won the previous to meetings, the squad had to remain focused.
"We talked after the game about not losing our focus in the first game. There's no point in thinking ahead if we haven't won game number one. Our thoughts are only on Cloverdale," Blackman said.
"We've played them twice, but who knows what will happen in the sectional? We've played very poorly in that gym."
"We shot 13 percent against Cascade. If you shoot 13 percent, any team can beat you. We have to keep our focus and our confidence no matter where we play and continue to be the aggressor."
At North Putnam
South Putnam 10 15 9 12 -- 47
North Putnam 11 12 6 6 -- 35
South Putnam -- Dabkowski 15, Thompson 14, Masters 10, McHugh 4, Cash 3, Varvel 1
North Putnam -- K. Asbell 15, Pinney 6, Robinson 6, M. Asbell 4, Davis 3, Wiatt 1