ROACHDALE -- North Putnam's boys' basketball squad was supposed to open the season against Southmont on Wednesday, but with school canceled that day in Montgomery County, the game was postponed.
Instead, the Cougars opened their season Saturday night against fellow Class 3A Sectional No. 25 opponent Lebanon.
The Tigers lived up to their preseason Class 3A Top 10 ranking, firing in basket after basket and leaving the hosts trailing in their wake in a 91-37 victory.
While North Putnam was able to physically match the visitors, every mistake the Cougars made was exploited to full affect by the Tigers.
"I think we had a lot of the first game jitters that every team has," NPHS coach Nathan Martindale said. "Lebanon came out and were the aggressors from the start. That's what experienced teams do."
The inside-outside combination of center Cord Barricklow and guard Caleb Brannon was overwhelming at times as the senior duo combined for 52 points on the night.
"We had to pick our poison," Martindale said. "Did we want Barricklow to get easy looks or did we hope shooters would miss from the outside?
"We made an effort to make sure they didn't get too much on the inside but they knocked down a lot of shots tonight."
Lebanon raced out quickly to a 26-9 first quarter advantage and doubled that lead with an identical second quarter output from both squads to take a 52-18 lead into halftime.
The Tigers began to ease off slightly in the third quarter, though the visiting defense held North Putnam to a mere seven points in the period.
The Cougars had their best offensive push in the final frame and did not give Lebanon as much time and space to work with as they had done in previous quarters.
By that time, however, the visitors were in a comfortable position and were able to see out the final eight minutes to record their first victory of the season, while handing North Putnam its first loss of the year.
Martindale said that Lebanon showed the experience of a well drilled squad.
"They're a very good ball club," he said. "Anytime you have a 6'7" post player [Barricklow] with that kind of skill and couple it with shooters all around, you're going to be quite the potent offense."
Martindale said that the intensity of the Tigers pushed the Cougars into a faster mental game than they were ready for.
"I thought guys were sped up and didn't get to where we wanted and where we worked towards day in and day out," Martindale said. "The guys were just overzealous in terms of doing what we needed to do.
"The bottom line is that we're not going to see another team like this for a very long time. We have to take this for what it's worth: getting our first game under our belt and moving on to the next game."
Martindale added that the squad fought hard to try and take things away from Lebanon's offense but the Tigers were good all over the court.
"I thought we did a good job of battling in the post. They were just able to skip passes across the court and hit three-point shots," Martindale said. "Anytime Barricklow got in the post and could do what he wanted one-on-one, we decided we needed to help the post players.
"Maybe we over-helped at times and they were able to skip passes and knock down shots on the other side. 11-for-20 from the three-point line is a great shooting night, while Barricklow was eight-for-10," Martindale added.
The energy needed on the defensive end seemed to drain the Cougar offense and Martindale said that the offense was off all night.
"I thought we took care of the ball fine but we didn't get many looks we where we wanted to get the ball to. We were pretty stagnant," Martindale said. "The guys were tentative. There wasn't a lot of motion but a lot of standing. We got ourselves in too many bad situations."
With a week to prepare for Cloverdale in the Putnam County Classic, Martindale said the squad just needs to focus in on a few key points -- rotation on defense, fluidity on offense and getting his players to buy in to the system.
"The guys will be up for the county games," Martindale said. "This was game one. It was a tough game one. We knew that going in and we need to get better at the things we'll work on this week."
At North Putnam
Lebanon 26 26 22 17 -- 91
North Putnam 9 9 7 12 -- 37
Lebanon -- Brannon 29, Barricklow 23, Starkey 8, Molter 8, Hurst 7, Comage 5, Bradley 5, Nelson 2, Marshall 2, Williams 2.
North Putnam -- Nauert 11, Green 7, Brewer 5, Haste 4, Flynn 4, Beaman 2, Herrmann 2, Riggen 2.
Rebounds -- Lebanon 40 (9 offense); North Putnam 26 (7 offense)
Assists -- Lebanon 21; North Putnam 6
Turnovers -- Lebanon 12, North Putnam 18
Next Game: North Putnam faces Cloverdale in the Putnam County Classic on Friday.