South Putnam's girls' basketball squad opened up the West Central Conference portion of their schedule Friday night as the Eagles hosted Class 2A No. 10 Cascade.
The Cadets provided a dose of physical play that the hosts had trouble matching and proved to be a major factor in a 55-34 win for the visitors.
Cascade attacked the center of the South Putnam defense throughout the entirety of the contest and put the hosts into foul trouble from the beginning.
Seniors Mallory Cash and Leanna Masters were both forced to spend large chunks of the first half on the bench, a major issue as the duo were the only Eagles to score during that time period.
The visitors found most of the early success at the free throw line as the Cadets knocked down 12 free throws in the opening half.
The inside threat of Sydney Stein and outside looks from Brandyce Sallee, coupled with Cascade's attacking play, made life difficult for the Eagles as they trailed by five after one quarter and 11 by halftime.
Both teams found success hard to come by in the third quarter as South Putnam found its offense limited by the Cascade defense.
Those frustrations eventually boiled over as Masters was called for a flagrant foul late in the period.
After the incident, however, both offenses stepped up the pace and the game saw the scoreboard begin to light up at a furious pace.
The hosts could only match Cascade shot for shot and in the end did not have the ability to overcome the early offensive struggles, dropping their first WCC game of the season.
South Putnam head coach Lindsey Blackman said that the squad was not able to hold down the middle of the floor like they wanted to.
"We couldn't rebound the ball (early) and we gave Cascade too many second chance opportunities," she said. "Against a team like that, with the offensive fire power they have, we couldn't let that happen. Not getting those rebounds put us on our heels in the beginning.
"We've been playing a man-to-man defense all year and we're trying to switch to a zone and it's always a challenge to rebound out of a zone. We didn't get people in positions to block out," Blackman added. "Cascade wasn't doing anything unusual; we just weren't finding people to box out."
As the game progressed, South Putnam became frustrated at Cascade's physical style of play and Blackman said the squad struggled to adapt to the game.
"We're not a physical team and we don't adjust well to physical teams. We talked in the locker room about how we need to do that," Blackman said.
"In practice, we need to put more pressure on each other. We need to apply what we felt in the game to what we do in practice while guarding someone so that we're ready for teams that are physical."
South Putnam hosts Owen Valley next Tuesday and Blackman said that the squad needed to stay focused to end its three game losing streak.
"We talked about staying together," she said. "We've lost a couple of games in a row now. We don't want to let this get away from us. We need to stay together, stay positive and keep working every day at practice."
At South Putnam
Cascade 10 16 10 19 -- 55
South Putnam 5 10 4 15 -- 34
Cascade: 18-61 FG, 5-21 3-PT, 14-22 FT
Sallee 24, Stein 15, Gaddis 5, Smallwood 4, Copsey 4, Bell 2, Smith 1
South Putnam: 11-53 FG, 4-11 3-PT, 8-22 FT
Cash 12, Masters 12, Barnes 7, Birt 2, Varvel 1
Cascade 43, South Putnam 28
Cascade 13, South Putnam 18
Cascade 20, South Putnam 16
Next Game: South Putnam hosts Owen Valley next Tuesday.